Looking back on my life, I can very vividly remember the first time that I felt different. I was about 6 years old and in school. During recess, I gravitated toward the girls’ side of the playground. It’s where I always felt more safe, comfortable and accepted. Some boys were playing soccer nearby and made a comment about the fact that I was hanging out with the girls. From that point forward, I didn’t know where I fit in. There’s no guide to help you understand something that complex at such a young age, so I continued to navigate this new world until I came out to my mom in November 2003. It wasn’t until then that I really started to explore what it means to be a part of the LGBTQ community.
Pride Month means a lot of things to me. Not only is it a reminder of the major milestones made as we attempt to be recognized, loved and accepted around the world, but it’s also a reminder that we need to love each other more. We need to empower people to be their authentic self and celebrate the diversity that exists in everyone. Every human being deserves the same rights, freedoms and luxuries, regardless of who they are, who they love or how they choose to live their life.
This month isn’t just about the LGBTQ community participating in parades and celebrating, it’s also an opportunity to recognize the millions of allies who stand by our side and fight along with us.
I’ve had straight allies, friends and family members ask what they can do to help. There’s a lot of simple things you can do, from attending Pride Month celebrations and posting on social media about the importance of loving and accepting everyone, to donating to organizations that support LGBTQ-related initiatives. Some great organizations include the Human Rights Campaign, The Trevor Project, True Colors United and GLSEN. But most importantly, if you know someone who is LGBTQ, you can make sure they know they’re supported and loved. Give them a safe place to be themselves. I was very fortunate to have a supportive, loving network of family and friends who got me through the tough stages of my journey.
There is still a lot of work to be done, and people can also get involved at their places of work.
The list goes on, but every step we take – and every conversation we have – gets us closer to being a more accepting and supportive society without fear and hate.
I hope that people will start to view Pride Month as a reminder to be kinder and more supportive of each other, without stereotypes. Embrace the individuality of others and help make this world a more enjoyable place for everyone.
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