As the world creeps back toward normal as COVID-19 vaccinations ramp up in the U.S., I find myself on a slow track towards my own normalcy.
First I spent the day out, getting a haircut and my nails done. Then my husband and I had a date night. The next step? A small gathering of vaccinated family members for Memorial Day.
It was just my husband and I with my in-laws and my husband's aunt and uncle. Six people sharing a table. Inside. With no masks.
On the one hand, it was absolutely wonderful to see people, to chat for hours and eat ribs together. Face to face social interaction is so precious, and I really didn't understand for most of the pandemic how much I was missing it. Talking about deep things, talking about silly things, it was just wonderful to be there.
But there was still the part of my nagging brain that was worried, that kept me on high alert even as I wanted to relax. Was it OK that we hugged? That I was laughing so loudly? That we spent hours together inside?
As my family and your start to resume some pre-pandemic activities after full vaccination, I know I'm not alone is feeling some pandemic anxiety even as our risk of infection is distinctly low. Just as we're going to have to re-learn small talk, managing latent anxiety is another challenge we'll be facing for awhile. But I'm proud of how I coped, of the happiness I was able to achieve in spite of my worry. I hope it is the start of a great, safe summer.
Pride month starts today
The month of June is when the LGBTQ community comes together to celebrate being out and proud. Pride started as a protest outside the Stonewall Inn in 1969 in New York, and the community wouldn't be as outspoken as it is today without the work of Black and Latinx transgender women.
The coronavirus pandemic thwarted traditional Pride parades and other debauchery last year. With the country reopening again, members of the LGBTQ community can more readily gather safely this time around.
My colleague David Oliver wrote about what LGBTQ celebrities are saying about this important month. David spoke to actress Niecy Nash about Pride Month and her recent wedding to wife Jessica Betts.
"I am proud of who I am," she says. "I am proud of my relationship. I'm proud of our marriage. I am just proud to be a Black woman who (lives) life on her own terms and does it out loud."
Nash didn't know what to expect once she revealed her truth to the world, "but my close friends and family were extremely supportive and so that was the most important part for me," she says.
She's been vocal about how she didn't come out – she "never hid anything" – but rather came into herself.
"I feel like you only really need courage in the face of fear," she says. "And I don't know if I was afraid in as much as I was just cautious, because I did not know how we were going to be received in the world."
Read the full story here. And stay tuned for more Pride stories.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Masks off. Anxiety on. How my first post-vaccine get together felt.