Every year right before Pride, I struggle with the cliché internal countdown of how long I have to morph this tired caterpillar into a fabulous butterfly. I want to get down to my original birth weight, and write the next Great Canadian Novel. But life happens, and priorities change, and come the end of June I inevitably feel disappointed with myself for not attaining this Sarah Bertrand Version 2.0 that I had set out to become.
We gays are not gentle with ourselves. This year, I decided to no longer feed into the Pride stereotype. This is the story that helped me to get out of my head and remember that who I am at this moment is enough.
My grandma grew up in a different world. She’s an 82-year-old firecracker who’s lived through a time when the set of Mad Men wasn’t too far off. She’s gone from, “People just weren’t gay when I was young,” to “Your drag queen friends are so tall and pretty!” (This was while she was sipping on half a glass of ginger ale that I ordered her at Crews and Tangos because, “Anymore and I’ll have to pee!”). Gram lives in an apartment building specifically designated for elderly people. They’re quirky old people doing quirky old people things that they have earned the right to do.
Everyone has their own perception of what constitutes “beautiful,” and it always ends up being extremely diverse. Gram has always referred to me as her “Beautiful Angel” and uses this description when referencing me to her friends. My favourite crony is Edith. Edith is a lovely old doll who’s about as traditional as you can get.
Gram called me one afternoon at my old job, and when I answered the phone, I heard a little giggle. “Edith came to see you at work today, but she said you were off. It was about 3pm.”
“That’s strange. I was definitely there. At the front.”
More giggling. “Oh, I know, my Beautiful Angel. I told her that. She said, ‘No no, that girl behind the counter was NOT your grandaughter.’ Don’t pay any mind to her Sarah, she’d old.”
We both laughed because we knew that it absolutely was me, and somewhere along the line this sassy old jerk had decided her own version of who I was. Perhaps it resembled a modest woman donning one long braid who looked like she lived in a Trisha Romance painting, sitting in a bay window waiting for her husband to come home from the office. Or maybe she pictured me a plucky femme teen skipping through Green Gables in an age-appropriate bonnet. Either way, I doubt she accounted for the tattoos and piercings.
This year, as you’re applying your SPF40 sunscreen and lacing up your sensible shoes in preparation for Pride crowds (you’ll see how the “getting ready” process changes once you reach 30), have fun and try to remember not to get so caught up in the standard of beauty that we’re all guilty of imposing upon ourselves, because we are already fabulous butterflies.