Why Pride and International Coming Out Day are so important
“Imagine considering yourself lucky that the worst you have to endure is name calling and the odd disapproving glance”
Written by Meabh Sexton
Voices - Experiences
Young people share their personal experiences.
You ask us why we need pride.
You ask us why we need a ‘coming out month’.
You say, “I don’t have a problem with gays they just don’t need to shove it in our faces, they don’t need to do it in front of kids.”
You say “we allow you to get married now” with your self-satisfied smile and the sense of pride you have in yourself like tolerance for others is something that should make you feel superior, something that sets you apart from others.
I want to ask you: do you remember when you first said it? When you first uttered the terrified truth you had, no doubt, kept suppressed? Did you practice how you would say it beforehand? Did the thought of saying it fill you with dread?
Do you remember where you were when you sat your closest friend down and told them you were straight?
Did you have a knot in your stomach from fear?
Did you search in their eyes for the anger or rejection you were terrified of finding that would validate those same feelings you felt towards yourself?
How did they react? How did everyone else react when you decided to stop keeping this unbearable truth to yourself anymore and be open about what you couldn’t change?
Or have you never really thought about it?
Is this a moment in your life you have taken for granted, like being able to walk down the street holding your loved one’s hand without fear or shame?
Have you ever given it a moment’s thought, what it would be like to grow up knowing you were different but never knowing why until you got older? Did you try to push it down and act like it wasn’t true? Did you run from it and need to work on accepting who you are?
Have you ever held your loved one in an intimate embrace and suddenly had a nagging feeling in you, when an unwarranted thought reminded you that there are people who would want to see you hurt for what you were doing, people who think what you have is a sickness to be cured through prayer, or other means, while they spill their hate on something that, to you, feels so innocent and pure?
How would you feel knowing there are 70 countries in the world where you would be put in prison just for being who you are, for a part of you that is as unchangeable as the colour of your eyes or what height you are?
No, you don’t have to think about it and I wouldn’t either if I didn’t have this feeling. I don’t blame you really, it isn’t your fault. But put yourself in our position.
Imagine considering yourself lucky that the worst you have to endure is name calling and the odd disapproving glance: when your less fortunate counter parts in other countries are being murdered and locked in prison for the crime of loving who they love.
Yes, we march and wave our flags of pride and triumph, and yes, we are unashamedly ourselves. Because the right for us to do so has cost lives. It would do those, whose lives were deemed worthless simply because they didn’t fit the heterosexual norm, an injustice to hide in the shadows and be anything less than our own shining selves.
So, the next time you see a status on social media announcing someone is gay don’t judge, don’t say that person should keep it to themselves because they shouldn’t.
Your pride march is every time you can kiss your loved one in public without fear of offending someone or making others uncomfortable.
Your pride is knowing that no one has ever doubted your ability to be a parent without even knowing your name.
Your pride is the fact that you have never had to worry about how people would react when you told them the news that you were straight. Never had to fear that you would lose friends, never had to be afraid it would affect your career.
Your pride is never having to introduce your loved one as a friend in order to ensure your mutual safety.
Your pride is never having your future debated on the television screens, never having others question whether you should be allowed to get married.
Never having to be thankful for your love being validated by others, because for you it is a given. You can upload a picture of you and your loved one for all the world to see without shame or fear.
Your pride is every day. As ours should be too.
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