The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Pride, is my best friend. Well, he’s gay. I was formally introduced to the LGBTQ+ community through him. Before I met him, Pride, to me, was just a concept. Something that I didn’t know actually happened. I wasn’t homophobic, just a little ignorant you could say. But unlike what I expected, nothing changed. It was all the same between the both of us. We still talked about the same things. It wasn’t a big change. The only thing I noticed was the shining in his eyes when he spoke about his favorite male character or the hottest guy on this television show, or for that matter, the hottest guy in the grade. Eventually, I started to understand how hard it was for him before he officially came out as gay, and even now. Talking about the LGBTQ+ community is actually more of a taboo than anyone realizes and actually being close with someone who is a part of the community just throws a lot of light on that. He talked about his unaccepting, homophobic parents and relatives, friends who made fun of the community and people who are a part of it and news articles highlighting the outrageous atrocities committed against the LGBTQ+ community. He needed constant reassurance and support that he was not wrong for who he was and how he felt.

As I speak about my best friend, I realize that thousands and millions of people around the world are projected to and feel the same way. I realize that the news articles published, the live streaming on television are not a small deal. The physical and mental atrocities including the shaming, the childish poking of fun, the verbal abuse, the embarrassment, the disgust, the diversion of topics and more, are not just insulting to the people who are subjected to the same, but is a disgraceful example of how stringent, rigid, unaccepting societal norms are.

The people who are a part of the community go through a lot of mental and emotional trauma. There are multiple stigmas and taboos that relate to the LGBTQ+ community which include but are not limited to: the raising of children by couples of the same sex, a lot of discrimination, being subjects to the use of derogatory words, unusual amounts of stress, anxiety, the feeling of not being good enough, the feeling of always being in the wrong, and more. Although there are NGOs and support groups that help control and overcome the trauma, are they really enough? Isn’t the creation of an accepting, non- judgmental, open minded society more important? Well, of course it is, but the question is how do we get there? How do we reform not just laws of countries but the mindsets of people? There are millions of people for the cause but why is that we see little to no change in the world? The answer to that is probably because there are people against the cause. People have rigid, stringent ideologies that have been told or taught or drummed into them by the people before them. There is always a need to create awareness, to create love, understanding and acceptance.

Do any of you wonder why Pride is called Pride? The origins of the usage of the word go back to the Stonewall Inn Riots in 1969. But to me? Pride is the feeling of being proud. Proud of whoever you are and however you feel. No one, and I repeat, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. You are valid. You are acknowledged. You are respected members of the society who add a little color to the otherwise grey skies of the black and white society.

What I admire about the LGBTQ+ community is their strength, their courage, their support, their acceptance, their love and most of all, their openness. Their reaffirmation of the individuality of all those who are a part of the community, whether or not they are sure of how they feel.

To conclude, I’d like to thank the entire LGBTQ+ community. Thank them for being brave. For being strong. For being the color in the world. For standing up for themselves where chances of being heard seemed bleak. For proving to the world that everyone is beautiful, just the way they are. Happy Pride!

Author: Zoyah Virani

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