What does Pride mean to you?
I began attending Pride festivals in Spartanburg around 2014 maybe. By brother had come out several times over the previous ten years (first as lesbian then trans) and we had all kind of rallied around him the best way we knew how.
I had never been involved in LGBTQ activism before that. I always accepted and affirmed those who were LGBTQ+, I just never felt the need to step out of my own closet to speak up. I am a bisexual / queer cis-gender woman. For all intents and purposes I was “invisible” within this community.
And that was fine with me. I really don’t enjoy being in the spotlight. This invisibility allowed me to live a relatively simple life. Except when it didn’t. After all, I would date women on occasion. But, I married my husband and so continued to live as a queer person who was perceived as straight.
I never really came out until 2018 at 41 years old. But this isn’t about that. What gave me the courage and motivation to continue my coming out was Pride and standing in my power as a human who had an opportunity to facilitate change.
Pride means so many things to so many people. Some enjoy the fun, accepting atmosphere. Others use it as a platform from which to bring to light injustice and courage. Still others find it as a source of comfort in a world that may treat them as “less” every other day of the year.
For me I think it’s about community and visibility, but also tremendous opportunity. Having that place where you can find your people and build your community. Getting involved in a more activist-type roll allowed me to see the benefit in being visible as queer. I had an opportunity to set an example for my kids and grandchild, show support to my queer family members and be a source of strength for those who may not have found it in themselves yet. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to symbolize something other and to help others see that not conforming might be exactly what you were born to do.
If you can see it, then you can do it.
I’m proud of who I am and all I’ve done. Not because I am queer, but because we should all be proud. I want people to see me being proud of ALL of me so that they might also find that pride inside of themselves and follow it out into a community that loves them.
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