Pride Fest was this past weekend. It made me think about what a special place Key West really is. It’s not just tolerant of all people, it’s accepting. It’s the only place (that I’ve been to) that just lets you be YOU. No matter where you’re from, what you do, how you look, who you love, how you dress … it doesn’t matter. You’re accepted at face value for who you are.
My friend, a Key West resident, once said “Key West is just a bunch of misfits”. At first I thought it was a strange thing to say, but after mulling it over for a while, I believe I understand what she was saying. She meant people who didn’t “fit” where they were from. So many people come from restrictive backgrounds, are expected to fit a certain mold, like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
I’ve noticed that there’s no difference in attitude between home-grown Conchs, fresh-water Conchs and wanna-be Conchs. I imagine it’s because the home-grown Conchs were raised with acceptance of all. The fresh-water and wanna-be Conchs were/are striving for acceptance. Which is probably why I’m drawn to the people of Key West. I’ve never understood judgmental people. My philosophy has always been to never judge another until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. So, since I’ve never walked in anyone else’s shoes, I’ve tried my best to leave the judgments at the doorstep.
It helps that it’s a sunny, warm island with 300+ bars, and a multitude of restaurants, attractions, a historical and botanical bonanza, with a few beaches and a plethora of musicians thrown in. And a warm, caring people who all contribute, one way or another, in an extravaganza of charity events.
I have to touch on the charity events. I’ve never seen so many residents participate. I mean they totally throw themselves into making them a success. I know that other cities do the same, but we’re talking 26K residents – on a island that 2 miles by 4 miles – with events held almost every week. And they never tire of it. Maybe it’s because of the acceptance of each other that makes them want to participate … maybe it’s their warm, caring nature. Whatever it is, I love the people of this tiny island.
Howard Livingston and MM 24
at Schooner Wharf for KOA Care Camps
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