June is Gay (or LGBT) Pride Month. Many of you know that, but I didn’t want to assume…..so there you go. Many people, I’d venture to guess, think of men dressed as women dancing of floats or scantily dressed men dancing around poles, or dykes on bikes rolling down the road when they hear “pride” or “Pride Parade”. Those images can be very accurate for many pride parades, and I personally don’t think there is anything wrong with any of them…..but to me “pride” is much more significant than “just” these images.
I also believe many, especially in the heterosexual world, wonder why we need pride anything. I mean, some very nice friends of mine post quotes to say things like “why can’t we just have human pride and hang out and get along?” Some even say, “why aren’t there straight pride months or events?” Both are great questions. Look, I don’t have all the answers, but as a lesbian I can share my perspective and heart if you care to continue reading.
First, it’s important to note that June was selected for LGBT Pride month to commemorate the Stonewall Riots that occurred in 1969. And, incidentally, not all Gay Pride parades or events happen in June, but I digress. LGBT didn’t always feel as open or safe as many do today, and in fact many were persecuted and violently discriminated against in years past. Many, especially in the “T” world (transgender), are still in a very insecure and dangerous space in our society today. So, it’s important to note that Pride is an attempt to shine the light of said discrimination and tries to turn the views towards LGBT toward positivity, aiming for reduction of violence against LGBT, creates a call for dignity, equality, and attempts to celebrate their existence instead of hiding in shame. I don’t expect many who are not LGBT to understand this, so I will try to explain.
Many of you may remember when you hit puberty and the awkwardness of the hormones taking over your body, which was changing in ways you’d never experienced before. Consider also realizing for the first time you were very different from the other kids of your gender and that only made you feel more confused. You probably didn’t freak out and think you were broken. I did.
Many of you probably didn’t look at someone of your own gender and feel your heart skip a beat and then become horrified that someone noticed, and then immediately inwardly berated yourself for being this ugly, sinful thing. I did.
Many of you probably didn’t spend almost every night crying out to God from the age of 13 to 35, begging to be fixed. Because I didn’t “choose this lifestyle”, and in fact invested everything I had in me to change what I am. Everything. And I lived in self-hatred and fear that someday, someone would see the lie I lived as I acted like a heterosexual.
Many of you probably didn’t work with your whole heart to love a person society said you should, while hating yourself for being a fake and a phony. You probably did not feel the added guilt of receiving the love from that person who was an innocent in all of this. I did.
Many of you didn’t have to decide what “sin” to live – being honest about your sexuality or continuing to lie to everyone in your life. I did.
Many of you, when you finally stopped running from the truth and met the love of your life, didn’t need to hide it for five years because you’d lose your job, lose many of your friends, lose some of your family, lose your church. I did.
Many of you haven’t lost a job due to the person you love. LOVE. I did.
Many of you who wanted nothing more to be monogamous, committed, and live forever with the love of you life in a legal relationship recognized by your country…..but were instead told you were an abomination and that it was against the law. I was.
Many of you who have tried to get a driver’s license with your legally married name and were told you could not because your marriage license was not accepted in that state. I was.
Most of you will not wake up each day and wonder if someone will get in your face – or even attack you – for loving someone. LOVING SOMEONE. I do.
Most of you will not be called names or be accused of pedophilia just for holding your spouse’s hand. I have been.
Many of you do not have to demand basic human rights such as the right to work, the right to see your loved one in the hospital, or the right to have your spouse on your insurance. I have had to.
Most of you don’t have to be told it’s okay to love your spouse, or that it’s okay to worship in church, or that it’s okay to have kids and raise them in love. I have.
Most of you don’t have to be assured that no one in this country will speak of death camps, or arrest, or insist violent groups will not be able to attack you for just walking down the street. At times, I am assured of those things.
Most of you won’t be accused of having an agenda by just be open about LOVE. I am.
So Pride, to me, is wanting to say “yes, I am a lesbian” today in the hopes that someday the topic won’t even come up. I do not say it to shove it in your face, to recruit you, to gain special rights, to reject religion, to break the law, to promote sin, to insist you live like me, or anything else. I celebrate pride to say, I am here, and I am just another human (yes, even an American) who just wants to live. To marry my wife. To call my Dad on Father’s Day. To have friends over for dinner. To get a flat tire and call AAA. To go to work and wish I won the lottery instead. To get the flu and act like a baby. And in it all, I don’t want to be “Gina the Lesbian”, but just “Gina”. And until that day arrives, I will gather and say “being Gina is not an abomination. No. I am me. You are you. And we are all better than this.”
This is my Pride. This is my life. Peace.