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Pride Belongs to You, Even when You aren't "Out"

Image by Maatkare from Pixabay

During Pride month, many of us share our "coming out" stories on social media, or take pictures attending a pride event, or put a rainbow flag up outside our homes. But, just because you see someone else doing something, it doesn't mean that you should feel pressured to do the same. Everyone has a unique journey of coming to know themselves, and unique challenges that they face with regard to their identity.

Whether you are young or old, there can be a wide variety of reasons why you aren't out. In some places, your physical safety can be jeopardized. You may face hostility from the people closest to you, be ostracized or rejected, and even face homelessness as a result. You may be discriminated against in the workplace and lose a job. If you are a parent, you may fear losing your children.

For whatever reason, if you aren't ready to come out right now, your identity is still valid, and Pride still belongs to you. Even if you never tell anyone, ever, Pride still belongs to you.

Pride started out as a riot and a protest. And, in a world where there is still an uphill battle for basic human rights for many in the LGBTQ+ community, there is still an element of protest and social activism to pride. If we truly had equal rights under the law, and full acceptance in society, we wouldn't need pride month anymore.

Maybe one day, we will be able to live in a world without labels. We could bring home a new partner to meet the family - of any gender - and just tell them, "this is who I love." No explanation needed. You could tell your family how you love your partner for their kindness, their beautiful heart, how they like the same music and movies that you do, and get your goofy sense of humor. And that would be enough.

That's the world I wish for. A world that didn't need Pride anymore, because it was ingrained in us to truly understand that "Love is Love" without needing rainbow flags, protests, or special laws to protect our rights. We would just be people, loving other people for exactly who they are.

As someone pansexual, I fall in love with people for who they are. Not because they fit some special social standard of beauty, but because of their inner qualities. Their hearts. Their souls. The secret hopes, dreams and fears that they whisper to me in the silence of the night.

I wish we lived in a world where there weren't gender stereotypes. Where girls could play with trucks and boys could play with dolls without comment, or an attempt to steer them in a different direction. Where anyone could wear any type of clothing that they wanted without being judged, or worse.

I hope that someday, we as a human race can learn to see the common humanity in everyone, so that we don't need Pride anymore. A world where everyone felt safe to proudly go outside every day and be who they are without the need for an explanation.

But today, in a world where people who are seen as "different" are still marginalized, where not everyone feels safe expressing their authentic selves in front of anyone and everyone, we still need Pride.

So, for anyone who is still in the closet for whatever reason, I see you. I believe that you deserve to be loved for your beautiful heart, just the way you are.

I have been there. (In fact, everyone who is "out" had to come out at some point. And come out again every time we meet a new person.) I was the one who was afraid to be who I was, and to love who I love. I never "came out" to the older generation of my family.

Right after my divorce, I hurt a very sweet woman who wanted something serious with me because I was afraid to commit. I didn't want to openly be in a poly relationship with a married woman, because I was afraid that my ex would use that as ammunition to take my daughter away. Much as I loved her, I had to end it, because I couldn't be the partner that she deserved.

I have friends who never came out at work, because of the professional nature of their jobs, and their fear at losing them. Other friends who have told me that they are never going to be fully out, because they are afraid of the very real possibility of violence against them.

So, this Pride month, I am out and outspoken for everyone who still lives in fear. For everyone who feels like they have something to lose for being who they are. You deserve to be able to live as yourself, every day of your life, without having to feel fear. But, that isn't the world we live in. Not yet. Even though it should be.

For all of you staying at home this Pride, pretending it doesn't hurt you to hide your authentic self every day, I promise to be twice as loud and proud for you. To cheer louder at the parade, wave my flag higher, and speak out in every public forum even more because I want to help create a world where you would feel safe being out.

That, my loves, is the world I dream of, and the world you deserve. That's the reason why I talk about Pride every June. Everyone deserves to feel safe being who they are, and I hope that in some little way, I can help to pave the way towards that future.


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