It seems as though we often hear others speak of Pride with the assumption that it is something easily defined and understood by all individuals. For the majority of the time that I have been “out” as a pansexual male, I never once questioned what Pride had meant to me; in fact, it was only about six months ago that I really began to examine what it means and the implications surrounding it. I was perusing one of my favorite blogging websites, Tumblr, when I came across the “30-Day LGBT+ Challenge” and was asked on day 6 to define what it means, for me, to have Pride. I sat and stared at this question for hours, awestruck that I had been attending Pride events in SF for four years, had been openly pansexual for six, and yet never once attempted to examine this seemingly well understood ideological construct.
At first, when I began to think about what LGBT+ Pride is, I hit a brick wall. I had always been told by my parents that in order to be proud about something, you need to have earned it. For instance, the first time I ever got a flat tire, I was immensely proud of myself for being able to take off the wheel and put the spare on efficiently. This was something that I had actively learned to do from direct observation of my father performing the same actions; there was pride in the fact that I knew I had effectively learned a life skill, albeit a rather basic one. When I finally took my car to Goodyear and paid the mechanic to change the tire, there was pride in knowing that I was using my own money that I had earned from my job; I had entered into the stage of my life where I was becoming increasingly self-sufficient. However, I did NOT take pride in the actual replacing of the tire, simply because I was not the one doing it; the mechanic might take pride in this, but I could not because there was nothing there which I had earned.
Much in the same way, I found it difficult to describe what Pride for my pansexuality was. I am not of the belief that sexuality is something anyone gets to choose; I didn’t get to choose being pansexual anymore than I get to choose preferring Cabernet Franc over Merlot or EDM over folk music. As well, I have never once heard a heterosexual individual state the pride they have in their sexuality, yet in the LGBT+ community the presence of Pride is apparent everywhere. It is something that is considered “de facto” for our festivities, you can’t go to any community event without hearing it in the crowd, or mentioned by performers. Pride exists in every space we occupy, it pours out from our homes and into the streets of the gayborhood, a fierce, unrelenting force of love, acceptance, and tolerance. It exists within our hearts and minds, something ethereal yet undeniably evident within every aspect of our lives.
I began to search the internet to help me understand more about Pride, to learn what it is and understand its existence. I don’t quite know when I finally realized it, I can’t pinpoint an exact “Eureka!” moment; I feel my understanding was reached simply from the process of searching it out. Pride, as I see it, does not rest within the mere existence of our sexual orientation as this is something inherent within all of us. For the majority of the modern age, those of us who fall under the LGBT+ umbrella have been shamed, beaten, and even killed for expressing our sexuality. To this day, there are few places where we can be “out” without the fear of persecution; there are few spaces where we can find peace and acceptance from others. But it’s so much more than that. We are Proud not simply because others can love us, but because showing our Pride is telling the world that no matter what they say, we love ourselves.
Pride is the acceptance—nay, the celebration—of our self-love amidst the animosity all too often shown towards our community. It is standing up and speaking out against those injustices performed against us; it is power and solidarity in the word, “enough.” It is our community coming together to show the world that we are beautiful and amazing in our own right; Pride is the family we never knew we had until we shed the self-loathing and fear that the world had instilled in us. It is the foundations of our spaces, it is the safeguarding of our own, fighting for our rights as human beings, and never stopping until there exists not a corner of this world that we cannot feel safe in. Pride is love. Don’t ever let anyone tell you different.
Photo credit: Guillaume Paumier/Flickr