In Our Pride
TL;DR: Happy Pride!
Originally Written: 28-Jun-2016
Word Count: 933
Read Time: 4 minutes
I never really enjoyed the word 'pride'.
To me it has conveyed a sense of arrogance and entitlement; to be proud is to oppose those who would say or do something that would disagree. if I'm proud of something then I'm probably going to downplay what others have to say about it if I don't like what they have to say. I don't like pride if it requires making others feel bad, which I have encountered to a degree during egregious hetero-shaming situations.
The first time I went to SF Pride was in 2010.
I was 20 and hadn't been out for a year. I was still having issues accepting things for myself based on what I thought I was supposed to be. I remember that I was still struggling with carving out what my own 'alternate' identity was after acknowledging it and still had difficulty accepting how my life had changed or even why the people around me couldn't see that I was essentially the same person. The only reason I went was because my stepsister forced me to BART over with her to check it out after work one day and I had some friends that wanted me to experience it as well. My experience was real. I immediately had the sensation that I was connected to so many people whose life-paths required significant self-learning and various hurdles to achieving self-acceptance and love. I felt empowered for not knowing where I fell and that the carefully structured path I was trying to go down wasn't for me and it was okay that it wasn't.
Every year since then I have learned something new, with the constant reminder that we are not alone in that journey but that everyone should try to achieve that despite feeling 'other' in different ways.
This year taught me that we are capable of creating and influencing all of the moments around us that have learning, love, laughter, and introspection. We shouldn't expect positive experiences or perceptions of the world to come to us - it comes from how we treat others on a daily basis, including ourselves. These things are something that come from within, you're only going to get as much as you give, so to speak. Someone wise recently told me that we always have the pen in our hands when it comes to writing our own stories, but he was referring to the past and not the future. We have the choice to be the victim or survivor of our experiences and downplaying your life as a victim of circumstance only stifles you from growing as you learn more about yourself and the world around you.
The word pride to me no longer has the same meaning as its literal definition but is more of a concept based on the experience of 'Pride' itself, at least from what I have gained from it.
Pride to me is being able to reach a point where you say "I love myself" in spite of others.
It represents an environment we should be trying to foster on a daily basis with ourselves and others to freely express ourselves without fear of judgment or destructive criticism.
It is about meeting someone and being able to immediately appreciate them because we all have a journey we want recognition for.
How you write your next chapter depends entirely on how you are writing your life story for yourself.
Pride isn’t saying ‘fuck you’ to those who have difficulty, cannot, or won’t understand you, it is having the pride in the person you are to still love or appreciate others in the face of hate or criticism. It is the willingness to not spread negativity even if the wound hurts so badly that your only urge is to retaliate. Pride
Most of the people I have met and gotten to know during a Pride weekend always have a core commonality with me: they understand that any person you meet should be more than respected and looking for reasons to appreciate each other’s differences should be the goal of meeting, not criticism or ostracization. It’s easy to ask why this kind of environment does not exist every day in common settings, but even if that’s what many feel this should be doesn’t mean it will create itself. Any lessons learned about other paths, differences, and beliefs should be used enough to where there are better expectations of each other and ‘where we’re coming from’. Responding to disrespect with disrespect and observing disrespect without taking action only propagates what we should all ideally be trying to prevent. I’m not saying we’re perfect, but getting honest with ourselves (myself included) about the role we are playing in the day of anyone who is witness to our actions and how we can be considered a positive or negative influence in many respects should be a key influencer in our decision-making. It’s important to think about what others think about your decisions but only in that context, if someone doesn’t like what you’re doing that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. People can be offended by you but if you’re just expressing yourself and not undercutting or harming someone, then you deserve respect for doing you.
It is in this context that I enjoy the concept of pride: Pride is about feeling amazing not just about yourself but also in the way you are carrying yourself in life as a positive influence for others because of how you treat people.
That’s what it creates and what everyone who experiences it ought to take and live life by.