Happy Pride to all the girls, the gays, and the they's. Pride month is the time we all have to be who we want to be, dress how we want to dress, and be fucking proud.
This month we acknowledge those who can't be themselves (religion, fear, safety, ethnicity., etc.).
Those who are discovering who they are.
Those who have lost family/friends because they came out.
Those who are out and proud.
This year is my first pride I guess you could say?
Last year I decided to be who I wanted to be (I made a post on this- discovering bee). I let my walls down that I had been building for so many years. I was harbouring fears of judgement and confusion of who I was and who my family/friends thought I was. So, I told my truth. At the time I wasn't sure who I was and what I was going to be but I stayed true to myself. I began to wear what made me feel comfortable, no longer dressing for how society wanted to perceive me. I still remember the gut sickness feeling I would have when I went into any social settings from the age 14-20 because I didn't feel comfortable in my own skin, in my own 'clothing'. I ripped out the clothes in my closet and started over, shirt by shirt, pant by pant I started to build the image I always felt my best self in. Sometimes I think back to my teenage years and how I would dress with my closest friends or family, always wearing my brothers clothing. Then I think about how I dressed when I left the house for parties, bars, dinners, etc. It is truly eye opening how I made myself sick trying to be someone I wasn't for people around me, convincing myself and others I was happy with the person I was.
I was running on the high of my new Queer image for so long, but, I still wasn't completely satisfied with my life. Only 5% of the people in my life knew I was Queer and I wasn't sure how to be myself around people who didn't know my truth. I'd make myself into a smaller version of myself any time I was around people who didn't know I no longer dated men. As if what I wore or who I liked meant any slight to them.
So January of this year I started to tell more family and friends, I didn't run into any real troubles at first. Or at least nobody said anything to my face. I started to attend Queer events and safe spaces. My friend group began to double and all my closest friends became allies. My confidence began to sore and now that I was honest and true with myself several insecurities and relationship issues in my life began to become more clear. I made amends with family and friends over old issues, said my apologies for the callous person I use to be when I was depressed and lost. I'm shortening this down to a small window of time, but this took many years of therapy and writing to bring me to a place of true realization and acceptance of myself and the journey I took to get here. When I accepted who I was it enabled me to accept love, feedback, criticism, and even sadness from those around me. I lived a very lost life before I was out but I am relieved to say I have an idea of who I am and want to be. I accepted love from the wrong people, lived my life for other people, and never grieved the loss in my life, until I came out. I harboured YEARS (probably 8 years) of trauma and events within me because I was scared to be who I wanted to be.
Let's touch on the part of Pride thats more so not spoken about, the unaccepting judgmental folk. When I decided to tell my truth in April of this year, that did not sit well with two relatives. A feud began with people who could not grapple with the idea of their granddaughter being Queer and their inability to accept a lifestyle dating someone of the same gender.
Now, I have done enough of my own education, seen enough dumpster fire families, and settled many disputes with opposing views, to know this comes down to arrogance. I will agree that older generations lived a very very different life than we do now. Gay rights are only just being passed, they never observed two women, or two men, truly together and married. I acknowledge that. Again though, life progresses, it evolves with time. The choice to not grow with the ever changing world we live in is the arrogance. Take all the time you need to come to understand and accept Queer love and LGBTQ+ relationships, we aren't asking you to do that right away. What we do demand is respect and the promise of being open-minded to our identities and love.
Needless to say that was not the outcome here. So I, like many other people in the community, have lost family members due to the mere fact that we love who we love. I am not going to apologize or make myself a smaller version for the people in my life anymore. When this all happened to me I was in shock, losing the only real connection to ask questions about my mother is gone, and what will family holidays look like? Then again, they never actually knew who I was. Sure, they knew the witty, sporty, hard working bee that takes care of everyone. They never knew the writer, love for dressing masculine, tattoo goer, girl loving, bee. I never wore anything short of my Sunday best around them and hid any imperfection that would go against the church, of course.
So I sat and pondered what makes me so less deserving of their love because I won't marry a man one day. Nothing. Truly nothing. And maybe losing people who don't care to celebrate our successes, our rites of passage if you must, isn't a loss after all. Choosing to not accept the person you have known their whole life because of the sexual orientation will forever baffle me. I am a better version of myself that they never grew to know.
So with this month of Pride I grieve the loss of family and the life they wish for me, and celebrate the love, happiness, and joy that my soul feels every time I see another Queer couple, every time I meet members of the community, and each day I wake up and commit to being my most authentic self regardless of what people think. It's about damn time we see more Queer representation and acceptance in this world, speak your truth and love who you love.
This month we take back our pride that we may have lost for so long and build safe place to be ourselves. No more costumes in the closet for people to shove us in to conform. There is no space for hate and surely not room for disrespect.