June has arrived and that means we’re really into the swing of Summer and also the swing of Pride Month. Pride Month has a history of celebrating LGBT rights, culture and for so many including myself, is a time to reflect and celebrate how far someone has come in their lives as being a part of the LGBTQ community.
To be perfectly honest, writing about being gay and about my personal challenges isn’t as easy as writing about an outfit, but it feels like the right time.
I came out to my close family and friends two years ago, which in some ways does seem “late” but we’ll get to that later. This year, I’m feeling prouder and happier than ever with my sexuality and self confidence, but that was not always the case. Since as long as I can remember, a lot about my personality and mannerisms were heavily critiqued and criticized by peers, both children and adults. I’ve come to realize that those negative comments about my voice being too high, my conventionally feminine interests, the way I carried myself… (you get the picture) all made me start to believe two things: 1. that everything about me was possibly bad and 2. being gay was something to be ashamed of. I truly felt confused and trapped, with nothing but my own negativity to surround me.
When you start thinking everyone around you doesn’t like who you are, you start to not like who you are too. That’s a really tough statement to swallow, but that’s exactly how I started to feel. To be quiet honest, I wasn’t even sure if I was gay for the longest time, but I started to think that I couldn’t be. It was as if I didn’t want to prove to my bullies that they were right.
It’s taken me a lot of time to silence that voice in my head that said “you’re not good enough” or “you can’t be gay, it’ll give them ammunition to dislike you even more.” It took finishing high school and pretty much all of college to finally realize that the other opinions about me no longer mattered and that I should just be happy as my true self.
In the last few years it started to click for me. All along, I’ve had a wonderful sister and father who’ve loved me since day one, never letting me do anything but be myself, 100%. I have best friends, some since 7th grade, who appreciate and value me, even when I didn’t value myself. Most importantly, I started to believe that I deserve to be just as happy and proud as everyone else.
Being gay has its challenges no doubt, but it’s a part of me and it’s one that I love, not something to be ashamed of. It makes me who I am and I’m proud to celebrate that, this month and every other month that follows. It’s irrelevant when I came out or if it feels “late” because everyone has their own process, which is something all gay people have in common. I have so much respect for everyone who faces the same kinds of struggles that I have. Whether it’s reminding yourself that you’re good enough or handling public ignorance with a smile, you should be proud of yourself.
Thank you for reading this small reflection as we start a month of celebrating pride!