What Pride Means to Me

This weekend, the Tri-Cities, where Greg and I grew up, is having a pride celebration for the first time. While I think it’s taken entirely way too long to get to this point, I am glad nonetheless that it is finally happening. Greg and I have had a long road in our relationship of over 13 years as a couple and in all of that time we largely and surprisingly did not go to pride celebrations. That of course changed last year with us attending Atlanta Pride. We declared at that point after having so much fun that we would never miss one ever again. We are going to no less than three pride celebrations this year. We’ve already been to Knox Pride, we will be at TriPride this weekend, and in October we will be visiting Atlanta Pride again.

In all of this I ask myself, “What does pride mean to me?”

It’s important to me that I support everyone in my community. We should all be proud of who we are. We should have people around us that love us unconditionally. I have to admit that I have felt at certain times in my life that while people say they love me they secretly have misgivings about me and my sexuality. That is an unfortunate but real feeling for someone to have. It usually comes in the guise of “love the sinner, hate the sin.” I have grown to loathe that way of thinking. One cannot go through life living a by double standards like that.

OK, so that got negative for a second. Let’s focus on the positive. Pride is still a very important thing, especially in the current political climate. I don’t want this post to turn into a history lesson so suffice it to say that you know how things have gotten better while terrifying at the same time in the last 5-10 years. I won’t go into those details here. The point is that the LGBTQ community still faces challenges. Hate is a very, very real thing. It’s sad that in 2018 we even have to say that. Maybe one day we will be past it. Will I see it in my lifetime? I don’t know. I hope so.

Pride is also important because of why it exists in the first place. We must remember the Stonewall riots of 1969. It is very important to respect our elders and the struggles and sacrifices they made to make sure that we can be loud, proud and authentic. Next year will be the 50th anniversary of the riots. I hope we can go on vacation to NYC next year to celebrate pride there. We shall see. Other people in other cities and towns have had similar struggles as well. Each and every one of them needs to be remembered as well. We all have to recognize the adversity of being our true and authentic selves. It’s not an easy road being someone who goes against someone else’s opinion of what is “normal” and “usual.” That is why we celebrate pride.

It’s also important to remember those that we have lost over the years. When we were vlogging in Atlanta last October, we visited the AIDS Quilt in Piedmont Park. I shot a little footage that we did not end up using in the vlog because it was way too emotional. It is sad and tragic what people in our community had to go through when the crisis was happening in the 1980s and 1990s. I read story after story about how people like that were disowned. However, there were a lot of heroes who stepped up at that time and helped out. We must remember these people when we celebrate pride as well.

I have a confident feeling that the majority of people in the country, if not the world, do support the LGBTQ community. Like my friend Joshua Willis said, “It’s getting there. It’s getting there.”