Pride? Seriously? I never imagined a day when I would actually be okay with being gay – much less be proud of it. But somewhere along this long and twisty road, I learned to not only accept myself but also to love myself. And my life has been better ever since.
Let me tell you why I survived coming out (over 4 years ago!) and why I’m who I am today: straight people, or who some people call allies.
Don’t get me wrong – my gays and lesbians (and everyone in between!) have made their marks for sure, but I’d like to focus today on the heteros who have Pride – and what that means to a gay boy from the sticks of Louisiana. And if you’re a straight person who doesn’t understand how you could affect the LGBT community or why you should care about Pride, then you should definitely read this.
This weekend is Columbus Pride, and today was the parade. And do you know who accompanied me? A gaggle of allies. Seriously – a big crew of them! Now, let me tell you what it means to me – when straight people have Pride.
- It means you’re proud of me. I grew up in a world where nobody was proud of being gay – or even being slightly different. And straight people definitely didn’t stand up for gay people. Think about how it makes you feel when somebody’s proud of you. Yeah, that’s what you do to me.
- It means you’ve tried to put yourself in my shoes and tried to understand something that is completely foreign to you. It’s easy for other gay people to “get” me, but you – you took the extra step.
- It means you took a risk. I didn’t have a choice in supporting the gay community, but you did. You could have just blended in with everybody else, but you chose to stand up for us – and possibly lose friendships and relationships over your difference in beliefs.
- It means that you care about my well being. I can tell you right now that I wouldn’t be alive today without you. And that’s not being dramatic or sensationalizing the situation. That’s the honest truth. It means the world to me to have straight people make me feel normal. You understand that I don’t want to be anybody’s gay friend; I just want to be your friend.
- It means that you think we’re equals. It means you believe in me and my rights. It means that you think I deserve to have everything you have.
And if you’re not quite sure how to have Pride or how to be an ally, here are a few ways:
- Go to a Pride parade. Seriously. It may be uncomfortable, but do it anyway. You have no idea what it will mean to your gays. You have no idea what it will mean to me. Not only will it show your support, but also it will give you a little insight on what it feels like to always be a minority.
- Give me a hug. Even if your buddies are around. It doesn’t mean you’re gay – it means you’re awesome.
- Don’t let anybody talk smack about me. If you’re ever in a situation where people are talking badly about gay people, stand up for me. You don’t have to yell at them or start a fist fight – just walk away. They’ll get the point.
- Don’t ever introduce me to anybody as your gay friend. Nothing would make me feel smaller or more like a second-class citizen.
- Be there for me. Most of the time I hold my shiz together, but sometimes I just need to cry.