The 29-year-old Florida transplant who organized the “We are Orlando” contingent in this year’s San Francisco LGBT Pride parade has decided to move back home later this month.
Richard Sizemore, a queer man who has lived in the Castro for the past five years, told the Bay Area Reporter in an email that his decision to move stemmed from “many things.”
“I don’t belong here anymore,” said Sizemore, who, until April worked at Falcon Studios in San Francisco.
“I feel completely disconnected from the city,” he said. “I can’t seem to find a space here that I feel comfortable in anymore. We live in a progressive city and state, which is why I moved here. Florida isn’t very gay-forward, so it seemed amazing to live in a state where the laws on the books were there to protect you and not persecute you. Now I feel like instead of moving here to be safe, I ran.”
Sizemore said he’d like to help bring about “political and social change for gay rights” when he returns to Florida.
“I also have an aching need to be there. To see Pulse, to cry my heart out with my friends in Florida, and to be closer to my mother and father,” he said, referring to the LGBT nightclub where 49 mostly gay men of color died and 53 others were injured in the June 12 mass shooting.
Sizemore moved to San Francisco in 2011, and for a time volunteered with Haus of Starfish, which raises money for the Leather Walk.
While organizing the parade contingent, Sizemore’s roommate asked him to move and after a monthlong search, he concluded it was impossible to find anything affordable.
Sizemore initially loved living in San Francisco.
“I lusted after it in the beginning, but that’s just changed. It requires such a hustle just to make it by, and we’ve just lost unique, quirky people that I loved that it’s just time,” he said.
Just after the Pride parade, where he organized and led a contingent of marchers honoring those lost in Orlando, Sizemore told the B.A.R., “Walking the three quarters of a mile in the parade turned out to be the most moving moment of my life.”
He said “the response we got – the clapping and the crying – people really appreciated our efforts to memorialize” the victims.
Over the past month, Sizemore said he’s “received so many thank yous and heartfelt messages from people around the world. It was just amazing to experience. An amazing group of people came together to make what was an amazing tribute. It still blows my mind.”
“It’s bittersweet to be leaving, but I know it’s the right thing to do,” he added.
When Sizemore returns to Florida, he plans to initially live with his mother in Melbourne, a beach town 70 miles east of Orlando. He is planning to ask the San Francisco Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence – who marched with the Orlando contingent – to reach out to their colleagues in Florida to connect him like-minded people in central Florida.
“It will probably take me six months or a year to try and establish a footing with the gay community there again, and develop my reputation in regards to volunteer work,” Sizemore said.
Until then, he’s packing his belongings and hoping to couch surf in San Francisco for the next week or two.
– reported by Sari Staver