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Bryan Batt, performer and original cast member of Jeffrey, Cats and the AMC series "Mad Men."
I have had the good fortune of having several pivotal moments where I was completely overwhelmed with pride and joy: The Supreme Court's decision on June 26, Obama's inaugural speech, being a part of the play and film Jeffrey, standing center stage on Broadway singing "I Am What I Am" in La Cage aux Folles, or when I helped a very troubled teen with coming to terms with his sexuality despite his religiously confused parents.
But the most wonderful moment I can recall is something someone else did. I was riding with the cast on the Jeffrey float in my first Gay Pride Parade, and I had just officially told my mom and brother of my sexuality, although my conservative brother had suspected all along and said, "Thank God, I thought you weren't getting any!" Anyway, I still had many questions. Marriage, same-sex benefits, or even equal rights had never even been a part of the equation – a new world was opening up – to be completely free, you must be honest. My parents had not raised me to be a liar, so out I went. Although the parade passed the haters across from St. Patrick's Cathedral, when we got further into the Village, I saw this elderly lady who reminded me of my late grandmother holding a big sign that read "Love, however expressed, is a beautiful thing."
I suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of peace and contentment and pride. It was almost as if she was giving me her blessing from above. I knew then that I would be just fine.
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