It's no secret that I was a bit nervous about going to Pride this year. The various homophobic attacks across the world had me concerned that the not-so-great people in NI may exhibit loud cowardice and target the parade I was walking in. Nonetheless, I pulled on my tutu, tights, bow-tie and top hat, ready to make people smile and laugh. I kneeled on the ground for parents to take photos of me with their little ones, I stood on my tip toes for drag queens wearing incredible heels to take selfies with me, and I forgot all about the fear that had been hanging over me only an hour earlier.
By the end of the parade, my feet were swollen and sore, not to mention that my cheeks hurt from smiling for so many photographers! Regardless, the day was a success, and I started to make my way to a local bar. Even after the parade, I could barely walk 10 metres without being stopped for a photo, and I obliged every time simply because the smiles on peoples' faces were making me happier than I have been in a long time.
Once again my recent lack of alcohol consumption won out, and after just one drink I started to make my way to City Hall. A few more photos later, and I was sat on a lawn, hat beside me, completely exhausted. One by one, young girls approached me to tell me they loved my hair, or my tutu, or my outfit as a whole. Then one young girl came over and handed me a piece of paper. She told me that she loved Alice in Wonderland, so when she saw me - dressed as Hatter - she knew she had to give me this note.
When she left, I read the note: "Hi, I find you attractive! Please recycle this message by passing it on to another attractive person. Have a lovely day!"
That note made my entire day. Every smile had lifted my spirits, but one little piece of paper that had probably exchanged hands countless times that day truly chased away any remaining fear I'd had about going to Pride. There is always more good than bad in the world.