June is here and the colorful flags are too! As many may know, June is often celebrated as Pride Month. But what exactly does this mean? Diving deeper into the history of Pride Month, it was originally sparked by the Stonewall Riots of the 1960's in New York. Police had raided a gay club which lead to days of protest from outraged residents, peers and workers. These times were not welcoming of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) community. The Stonewall Riots helped gleam light for the gay rights movement in the United States.
Pride Month allows me to acknowledge this history and shows that we have come a long way - but also still have a way to go. From when I was younger until currently, I feel like as a country we have made steps to progress. There is more visibility and increased acceptance than in the past. In my younger age and growing up, I do not remember there being as much visibility and conversation around the LGBTQ+ community. For me in my youth, I feel like I was not aware or exposed to the topic as much. Moreover, I was conforming to the norm because that was all I knew and was influenced by. It was not until I was in college that I started educating myself and was exposed to more diversity. I think what also played a role in increased visibility for the LGBTQ+ community was the boom of media, social media and technology. We are a smartphone generation, so it is much easier to gain exposure, visibility and engage in diversity.
Pride to me means accepting and loving myself, loving others for their souls and wanting equity for anyone to love who they want, even with differences. It was not until I fully was able to love and accept myself that I was able to follow my heart. But, once I did accept myself, that is when others could accept me too. At first it was a bit uncomfortable opening up to my close friends, teammates and family. But I am grateful to be surrounded by positive and supportive people who genuinely care and want the best for me - that made it much easier.
I dream of a world where there is not this stigma that you have to “come out”. I feel for those that have to hide this or are not able to be fully open and accepted. Diversity and inclusion are what bring strength and unity. As mentioned earlier, we have come a long way but still have a long way to go. I know there are still people who do not accept the LGBTQ+ community. If we can keep bringing dignity, visibility, education and love then we will lessen the stigma and evolve from our standard social binaries. Love is a feeling not a gender, race, trait or demographic. We are human and are all deserving of that love.