What Does Pride Mean to You?
As pride month draws to a close, we remind ourselves that pride is so much bigger than any one day or month. Pride can be a sense of being. It’s community. It’s the way we lift one another up–and ourselves–through our words, our gestures, our small acts of courage and kindness.
It’s the opportunity to be open about who I am in every facet of my life. At work it is my privilege to show other people in my organization that you can be yourself and be successful.
What does Pride mean to me? In a word, everything. I’ve devoted most of my life and a good part of my career to giving voice to the voiceless–to those who cannot/could not safely speak up/out or who have been ignored. Pride, in the sense of celebration and openness, makes it possible for me to have the freedom to write us back into history and to publish those stories where others can easily find them.
“Pride is labor. It’s a demand. It’s a fight to dismantle the cishetero patriarchy. But Pride is also a cold, cheap beer I paid twelve dollars for because my dad bought too many beer tickets when he came to support me. And it’s the best goddamn beer I’ve ever had.”
Joy Van Stralen
Pride, for me, is two-fold. I have pride in who I am and the choices I have made to live my life honestly. I had a very religious upbringing that provided no room for what was considered sexual deviancy. Being able to find my way out from under than oppression and be the person I am today makes me proud.
I have pride in my queer family. I want to stand next to them, hold their hand and tell them I am proud of them as well. We are in this together, and we are here for those still too frightened or too oppressed to step out. And we are just as proud of you as we are of ourselves and each other. You are one of us and you are never alone.
When I think about Pride, I remember what it meant to me when I first came out—suddenly, for one month, there was recognition of who I was, and I could put faces to the “one in ten” statistic I’d clung to in my efforts to feel less alone.
Pride is so much more than rainbows and parades, but I think those elements are still so important. I’ll never forgot going to my first pride parade when I was a lonely teenager and being awash in the colors and sounds of queer people simply celebrating being themselves. To me, seeing the world covered with rainbows in pride month always brings me back to the first time I knew I wasn’t alone.
Happy Pride, everyone! Thank you for showing up, standing up, and bringing your authentic selves whenever and however that affirms who you are. Because you have, because you continue to, that means people like me have been able to make this journey in a safer way.
It hasn’t always been a joyous, or forward-marching journey for me. And the journey, as you probably know, continues with every new encounter, with every questioning stare, with every uncomfortable introduction.
Pride is a complex, beautiful, wondrous thing. It’s a feeling of tremendous gratitude for everyone who has come before me, and those who stand beside me. It’s a feeling of community–including friends I’ve yet to meet who may be halfway around the globe and who may speak a different language. It’s the strength to know it’s okay to take up space, to straighten my shoulders and hold up my chin. To smile and say, confidently to the world:
“This is me.”
What does pride mean to you? Share with us in the comments or drop us a line on Twitter.