Reflecting On Pride Month 2022: Love Is Love

Roni K. Devlin, MD, MBS


July 26, 2022

Pride Month 2022 has passed, and we're well into summer now. Yet, I can't help thinking about it whenever I glance out the window at the top of a spiral staircase in my small loft condo. If you lean toward the left as you look out the window to the right, you can see a bit of the lake that leads to a channel connected to Lake Michigan. A savvy realtor would label this a water-view, but truthfully, the window mostly overlooks an expanse of pebble-covered roof.

About 5 years ago, as spring blossomed, a pair of seagulls made this adjacent rooftop their home. They found a spot that offered shade from the parapet wall, right in the line of sight from my window. The couple gathered materials to make a decent-sized nest and they protected their chosen spot, often fighting off other gulls before they could even land on the rooftop.

From my window, the two gulls looked exactly the same. They were equal in size and coloring, and I couldn't detect a difference in the sound of their calls. Both gulls guarded their space, finished the nest, and scavenged for food. In time, they took to the nest and one or the other stayed there, obviously incubating eggs. Though they were clearly coupled, I couldn't tell if either bird was male or female. I simply admired them — they were partners in a committed, balanced relationship.

After a few weeks, I caught sight of a new chick as it tumbled out of the nest. It was both ugly (Have you seen recently hatched seagulls?) and adorable (what baby animal isn't?). The chick grew quickly and was soon running awkwardly along the roof when not napping in the shady corners. And then, one summer day, the nest was abandoned, and the rooftop was empty, the birds having flown onward to their next seasonal destination.

Since then, the same seagull couple returns to that rooftop, just as the weather turns warm. They go through their predestined motions: rebuilding the nest, gathering food, and hatching a new generation of chicks. I admit that I've become attached to these gulls — I eagerly await the couple's arrival, monitor the nest and name any hatched chicks, and track the family's progress until they leave the roof once again.

This year, just as two baby gulls made their way into the world, my city held its first ever Pride Month Celebration. It was a day full of LGBTQIA+ performances, vendor booths, food trucks, nonprofit introductions, and voter registrations. The crowd was diverse and beautiful, and I saw lots of wide smiles, amazing outfits, and freely given hugs. People were often coupled, and many brought their children. People were overtly happy, but also respectful of their partners and supportive of their youngsters.

With my condo building located less than a block from the Pride Month celebration, I couldn't help checking on the seagulls as I went to and from the outdoor activities. Since that day, I've watched the rooftop with a renewed interest; the birds have become an avian allegory of sorts for me. They remind me of some of the reasons why Pride Month is so important: to celebrate — regardless of sexual orientation, gender, or appearance — equality without penalty, shared partnerships or groupings, and reproductive freedom.

With summer well underway now, I see the seagulls less often from my window. The chicks are still darker in color than their parents but are already bigger in size. I presume they have figured out how to fly since they are gone from the rooftop for long stretches of time. I like to imagine that the chicks are searching for partners of their own while their parents protect them from afar.

When the seagull couple returns to the rocky roof next spring, I'll know that Pride Month is near. The birds will share in nest-making, egg incubation, and feeding their chicks while staving off predators. And they once again, in their own way, will show me that love is love.

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About Dr Roni Devlin
Roni K. Devlin, MD, MBS, is an infectious diseases physician currently residing in the Midwest. She is the author of several scholarly papers and two books on influenza. With a longstanding interest in reading and writing beyond the world of medicine, she has also owned an independent bookstore, founded a literary nonprofit, and published articles and book reviews for various online and print publications. You can reach her via LinkedIn.


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