A True Gift - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2067854

A True Gift

Deep, heartfelt thanks to The East Hampton Press and Express News Group for the delightful, splashy (and semi-mortifying, for someone who’s flown under the radar most of their life) front page Person of the Year spread [“It’s About Pride, And Joy,” Year in Review, December 27].

What a fine group of cool and giving citizens I have the honor to join, both from 2022 and years past.

Thanks in particular to Michelle Trauring for her terrific interview and article, to Dana Shaw for visiting my classroom, and to those who spoke so kindly and generously of me, including the Reverend Rob Stuart, Ellen Dioguardi, Bob Chaloner, and Bridgehampton School Superintendent Dr. Mary Kelly.

Hand-in-hand with personal gratification is the cred and imprimatur this article gives our new organization, Hamptons Pride, and the pound of flesh/labor of love that was the first Hamptons Pride Parade — incredibly, the first Pride parade in the history of the East End. That it was such a resounding success, attended by three to four times more people than expected, shows we did the right thing at exactly the right time. East Hampton Village and the Village Police closed its main streets and opened arms to an historically underserved segment of our population. It was an inspired, courageous, and, I believe, life-saving gesture of which we can all be proud. As I heard a friend say, a gay middle-aged man who’s been around many blocks, “I always felt welcome here, but I never felt truly embraced before.” And a teenager, who was found alone and crying during the celebration at Herrick Park afterward, explained that they weren’t sad, but overwhelmed: “I just never thought I’d ever see anything like this here.” These two reactions alone made all our efforts worthwhile, yet there were many, many more.

This paper’s humbling and awesome accolade came to me in the wake of profound family loss, and while I was caring for a terminally ill beloved pet at home and was myself down with COVID. Nothing could have lifted me up more than profound recognition from my hometown, which I love and am committed to serving and making an even more safe and thriving place for its LGBTQ+ people and their allies. (And as I tirelessly repeat, one day we hope that will include everyone.) A true gift of spirit. I hope to write a more thoughtful piece for a future edition of The Press, but in the meantime, please accept this as my letter of gratitude.

All best to East Hampton and beyond for a proud and happy 2023. We hope to see you and yours at the June 3 second annual Hamptons Pride parade in East Hampton Village, always the first Saturday of every June. Everyone is welcome.

Tom House

President and Founding Director, Hamptons Pride Inc.