The first year that I marched in the parade I walked with my friend Brett. I wore a sensation deprivation hood which allowed a hole for breathing, that you could fit a straw through but that was all. In Texas it was a poor choice and I became dehydrated quickly. I had to put complete trust in my friend to keep me safe: to not let me run into people, fall over, or get hit by a car. I lost all sense of time in that hood. I had an idea of when we were under the highway but other than that I had no spacial sense. I could hear the muffled sound of a band. I remember the unevenness of the road beneath my feet, and the sounds that felt so distant and far away. I could also hear people talking about me. Brett said that some people stared but with my head covered I could not meet their gaze. Some people also looked away as if to erase my existence. I remember hearing one woman come up and thank us for marching as we were. She said that it meant so much to her. I felt like a disruption among the group because so many people (from what I was told) were looking away and I was a part a part of the parade yet also apart from it because I was experiencing it so differently.
This past year I went with my boyfriend. Instead of being in a hood and leash I was wearing His collar on a leash. We went with more people, who were also kinksters. It was definitely more social, and we spent a lot of time hanging out together before the march (actually thinking back the previous year the march was rushed and they skipped the announcements due to bad scheduling or because it was the only way we would get a police escort). We were walking in the crowd and a girl stopped us and said she wants this so bad – what we have (referring to being led around publicly in a collar with a lead or more likely general kink), but her boyfriend just wasn’t ready. I felt really lucky but I was also reminded of the comment last year, and although this was more sincere to me, being led around by my boyfriend who I cared a lot about, being in a leather hood was much more prominent, but more of a performance. This year consisted of performative acts.