Ten Years of PRIDE

The Road To Heaven Is Sometimes Paved Through Hell

By Leo Donato | June 06, 2014 | Published on HOOK ONLine


I moved to New York City one week shy of its Annual Gay Pride Parade. I moved here with no family no friends, not even a job. I would like to sit here and tell you that it was a gutsy move I made at the age of 27 in the hopes to go after my dream, but in reality it was the cruel words spoken by my father when I came out that gave me that ultimate push of courage. A one way Greyhound bus ticket, all my belongings and the ultimate truth, that the two and half hour journey here was one that I could never take in the opposite direction under any circumstances other than in a body bag!


Oblivious to pride, I stumbled upon the news from a Metro Source Editor's Letter. Speaking of the many things he felt proud of being an openly gay man. Most of the details of that article escape me but I do recall asking myself will I one day, one year be able to speak like him; questioning my righteous decision to come out while still under my family's roof. Unemployed, with only three months rent if I spent it wisely, and uprooted from all that I had ever known, you can imagine that, my first year of pride was one filled with excitement for having taken the leap, but terrified by not having anyone or anything to turn to if things went wrong.


If you are there sitting reading this, feeling any of these mixed emotions, or worst; I ask that you follow my ten years of pride some of which left little to feel any pride while others were just a cloud of haze. And while I can honestly say that I really only had one year where I could write a picture perfect Editor’s Letter – seeing this last decade of mine collectively I can honestly tell you that I feel Proud Like a Mother Fucker for everything that I lived, struggled with, endured, lost, gained, and regained. And if I had to go back and change a thing I would not change a Fucking Thing! Whatever you maybe going through; depression, alcohol abuse, addiction, homelessness, unemployment, lacking friends, lacking a lover, HIV & AIDS (by the way all these I experienced in my New York decade); eventually the sum of it’s parts will reveal to you it’s immeasurable value giving you more than enough reasons to rejoice the rest of your life in complete and utter PRIDE!


Ten Years of Pride

Cursed for having spoken my truth the rainbow I had now been branded


Turned my back on the past and embraced each and every color of the rainbow trying everything and anything, they were just paths leading, who knows, no where


The voices from my past haunting me, not even music was loud enough to quiet them when will they go away when will they stop


Love don't live here anymore, nothing lives here anymore not even me


Sex became the place I ran to, orgasm the only emotion I can feel


And suddenly I hear nothing, I feel nothing, I care for nothing, I am nothing, Nothing becomes Me


No Where To Run No Where To Hide No Where is Home


Come closer, look deeper, Now Can You See What I've Seen - Good, then you know I never gonna stop living!


Cracked, bruised and broken but still here standing. Where will I go from here...Somewhere!


Ten years of PRIDE risen from the death and decay of despair  like The Phoenix Is Reborn so am I!

By Leo Donato


Experience my journey as they have been immortalized by the unparalleled photographic talents of this young Brooklyn Photographer and friend, Tobia. She has filled in the details and emotions with such precision and tact, that any and all the words in the world could not come together to describe my life as accurately or true. Words simply fail!






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