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Pride Night makes trans Oakland A's fan stop worrying about her transition

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For Oakland A's fan Jamie Neal, this year's Pride Night brought together friends and community and helped her move past many of her worries about transitioning. She found she is loved.

Jamie Neal had over a dozen friends come out to support her at the Oakland A's Pride Night.
Jamie Neal had over a dozen friends come out to support her at the Oakland A's Pride Night.

Despite living in Las Vegas, attending the Oakland A's Pride night at The Coliseum last month was an absolute must for me. It would be, after all, my big coming-out anniversary.

Nine hours of driving, three red bulls, two bathroom stops, and many construction zones later, I arrived. The A's started the game with a touching tribute to the victims from the terrorist attack at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.  Members from the LGBT community along with allies formed a line from centerfield to the pitchers mound.  The crowd was silent as the participants passed a single baseball from the centerfield fence toward the pitchers mound where the ball was placed on the pitchers mound as a sign of remembrance and solidarity with those affected by the tragedy in Orlando.

With roughly 7,000 less people in attendance, it was noticeably less jubilant than Pride Night was last year in Oakland.  Maybe people were not in the mood to celebrate after such a devastating loss in Orlando, especially considering the fact that the shooting had happened just 48 hours before. Or maybe there was some other factor that contributed to the smaller number.  There weren't as many signs or outrageous outfits, but the atmosphere was still one of excitement, happiness, and respect.

I was fortunate enough to have 16 friends, many that had yet to get the opportunity to meet me as Jamie, show up to support me (and the A's) for this game.  While that may not seem like a huge deal to many people, we are talking about a game on a Tuesday night and every person who came to the game lived in San Jose or north of Sacramento and the game didn't start until 7:05 pm.

Roughly half of them were San Francisco Giants fans. This may not normally be acceptable, but some of them bought A's gear (a huge step in the right direction). Plus, this night was all about celebrating differences and being a welcoming environment, so we were clearly not going to turn anyone (even Giants fans) away.

This was the second Pride Night that the A's have held, and the tribute to the victims in Orlando was perfect.  This Pride Night was planned long before the attack happened, but the A's did the right thing in honoring those involved and affected.  Forget politics, this is just about appreciating people who choose to live their lives open and proud.  The A's (and many other MLB teams) are also doing the right thing in honoring the LGBT community as they do so many other groups of people, often ones that are not made to feel unsafe in public spaces because of who they are.

It was really something to sit back and think about where I was just a year ago when I attended my first sporting event as Jamie. Earlier that day I had been invited onto a podcast that Eireann Dolan and Alexis Cozombolidis have put together and to be a part of a feature that CSN put together (and the incomparable Jon Wilson produced) to celebrate gay pride month. Since I came out publicly a year ago, I have been overwhelmed by the embrace of these folks. I felt so blessed to share my story as the real me.

One moment mid-game left a lasting impression on me. I walked out of the bleachers and met up with a couple of friends to buy some food.  As we walked back toward our seats, a random stranger walked up and said, "Hey!  Congrats!!" I still don't know exactly what he meant by that - whether it was his way of supporting me for being trans or if maybe he saw me doing the CSN feature. Either way, it was a really nice thing to hear.

I then ran into one of the people I have always been most nervous about seeing as Jamie.  When she and I first met, I had an enormous crush on her and tried really hard to make something happen.  She and I had never spent any time together with me being my authentic self, but we have had extensive talks about this and how we would deal with it.

She recognized me and hollered for me and my other friends who were walking away.  The best part about that entire experience at a food stand in a low-rent stadium was that I forgot I was presenting as a woman.  It wasn't the foremost thought, foremost concern, or even a concern at all.

When I started my transition, I had several people reach out to me and tell me that it would get easier and that things would get better, but I didn't believe them...until that moment. My transition is always something at the forefront of my life.  It's always something that I focus on or am worried about.

Since that moment, I have noticed it -€” worried about it -€” less and less.

Thank you to the A's for putting on a wonderful night where people who are a part of the LGBT community can celebrate with each other and with their friends and families.  Thank you to everyone who has made this past year exceptional and amazing.  And most of all, thank you to the people who hung out with (read: put up with me) while I drove from Las Vegas to Sacramento to San Francisco to Oakland to Sacramento to Vegas in a 48-hour period. You all have made my life better in ways you cannot imagine.

Jamie Neal can be found on Facebook and on Twitter @TheJamieNeal. She is a regular contributor at Outsports.

Edited by Cyd Zeigler