When straight people have PRIDE

19 Jun

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Give me a hug. Even if your buddies are around. It doesn’t mean you’re gay – it means you’re awesome.
  3. 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.
  4. Don’t ever introduce me to anybody as your gay friend. Nothing would make me feel smaller or more like a second-class citizen.
  5. Be there for me. Most of the time I hold my shiz together, but sometimes I just need to cry.
At the end of all this rambling, I hope you walk away with a better understanding of how much you straight folks mean to me. And just because you’re not gay doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have Pride.
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7 Responses to “When straight people have PRIDE”

  1. Nadia H. June 19, 2011 at 2:41 am #

    This was amazing. We all have spent time feeling ashamed of something within ourselves but our sexual orientation should NEVER be one of those things. Having pride in yourself will trickle down to those who are just starting to realize they are worthy of all the exceptional things in life. You should be proud of the wonderful person you are and the example you are providing. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family and a community where everyone was valued and everyone was equal. I am proud to say that my city flies three flags: our national, provincial and the rainbow flag. When raised more than 10 years ago I remember clearly our mayor declairing that this was not a flag to support gay rights but rather it was a flag of equality which we all deserve. I LOVE that I live in a day and age that when someone tells a gay joke they are the ones ostracized because having friendships or relationships with such closed minded people are ones not worth having.

    • Bryant June 19, 2011 at 2:46 am #

      Wow – I love this, Nadia. xoxo

  2. paulandsilas June 19, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    You are an amazing person. I especially love your statement, “You understand that I don’t want to be anybody’s gay friend; I just want to be your friend.” Sexual orientation is NOT what defines a person AT ALL. We all should be free to be ourselves without having the added stigma, but it all comes from ignorance even when people should know better. I have been an openly straight ally for many many years, and I will continue to be one even if people want to sacrifice friendship. (And some people have done just that. They have unfriended me; called me horrible names; etc., but that is nothing compared to the bullying that so many other openly gay/lesbian men and women have experienced.) That just means that they were never a friend to begin with.
    Bryant, you’re just plain awesome. 🙂

    • Bryant June 19, 2011 at 4:10 pm #

      This means so much. Thanks for being a fantastic ally. 🙂

  3. Cake Betch June 20, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    You’re awesome, and I am proud to call you (and Keith of course!) a friend. I think EVERYONE, gay or straight, has experienced being an outsider, the weird one, the unpopular one, the one that kids made fun of – at some point in their lives. And it sucks! I never want to make anyone feel bad (except for maybe a certain someone that shall remain raptor I mean nameless) and I can’t understand it when others set out to do that.

    • Bryant June 20, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

      And this is why you’re awesome, Betch. Seriously.

  4. greengeekgirl July 18, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

    I am a total schmuck for getting behind in reading my blogs and not seeing this sooner.

    I love you dearly :-* even though I’m not really ‘straight,’ I’m usually put into that camp, at least from the outside. You remind me a lot of my bestie from high school, actually, personality-wise. I was one of the very few people who knew he was gay, because in Owensboro, you just didn’t “do” that–not publicly. There were always fitting-in issues for both of us, but he was like a brother to me and we always stuck by each other. When he passed away right before I went to college, of some stupid medical malpractice bullshit, I was enraged because nobody was talking about him like he WAS, they were talking about him like he was this straight guy; his off-and-on-again boyfriend was there and even though his parents knew who he was and Adam’s mom became great friends with the him, everyone else didn’t know how to handle it–they certainly didn’t treat him like they would have treated a female in the same situation.

    Also, they buried him in a short-sleeved brown plaid button-down and khakis–AS IF. I imagine he’s still rolling in his grave over that fashion choice. This was the guy who was mega-excited to go to prom with me so he could wear his tux.

    I am very proud of you, because I know what gay people go through when they come from the sticks. I’m proud of you for accepting yourself and, by extension, telling anybody who doesn’t agree with it to go to hell. I like to think that Adam would have done the same when he got older; when he died, he was still very uncomfortable himself with being gay, because of all of the bullshit that the conservative small-town types spew about homosexuality. I’m glad that you are happy to be your fabulous self.

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