Pride isn’t what you think it is

Another year, another National LGBTQ Pride month. With June in our rear view mirror and (almost) all of the glitter swept up from the streets, I’m reflecting on what it really means to be Proud.

Historically, showing pride has mixed connotations. For starters, it’s known as one of the seven deadly sins and has been called the sin from which all others arise. It stands for having an excessive belief in oneself that interferes with the recognition of God.

It was Pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.
— Saint Augustine

Celebrating in prideful sin doesn’t really help the whole homosexual plot line. If you believe that being gay is an abomination, then you might as well call Pride something more fitting like Satanic History Month.

On the other end of spectrum, we’re told to believe in ourselves, take pride in our work and strive to make others proud. How about that anthem, “proud to be an American,” when we recognize our freedom? How about veterans who are proud to serve this country? Are they going to hell, too?

Rewind to the morning of Saturday, June 24th in St. Petersburg, Florida. It’s the day of the annual Pride Parade where thousands of people gather to be proud together. My parents drove over to see me and drop off a few things. My mom handmade a rainbow flag for me to wear around my waist and my dad brought over two baskets of flowers in colorful hues. They told me they were so proud of me.

After they left, I got the house ready for guests and I slipped into an outrageous fishnet shirt with my new rainbow cape. At the grocery store, I saw several people also dressed in over-the-top fashion and showing arguably inappropriate amounts of skin. So, were we all giving in to sin?

Hell no! I realize now the opposite of Pride is not humility, it’s Shame.

Fun fact: I was born this gay. Even before I knew who I was, my parents could sense I was gay. Around kindergarten, I found it strange that I always wanted to be the girl player in a game. By 2nd grade, I felt out of place because I rather be cheerleading instead of playing football. I rarely hung out with boys because I worried they’d laugh at me if they knew I liked Barbies.

My clearest memories of this fear were in 4th grade when I chose not to go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Mackinaw Bridge because I was too scared of what it’d be like to room with a male classmate. Fast forward through middle school when I started buying preppy clothes to look like one of the popular guys until high school when I lived every day in shame of my voice, my mannerisms and anything else that might give away that I was gay.

& I didn’t even have that bad! Imagine being gay back in the day when there was no media representation or understanding. Imagine being gay right now in India where it is illegal. The real sin is that we still cannot accept people for the way God made them and we make them hide it or deny it, locking away their true colors and potential.

At 18 years old, I came out of the closet to my closest friends and family. I remember SHAKING when I told my sister even though I KNEW she wouldn’t care at all. Then I moved to Florida and vowed I would live everyday as my true self. But even today, seven years later, I live in fear knowing there are people out there who are so disgusted that they might go to an LBGTQ club and kill every one of us in there.

For me, Pride is a day to push the fear aside. To wear an overtly gay outfit and prance around is an act of courage. Even my mom said on her way out, “Be safe and look out for terrorists.” So there I was on a summer night dressed in excessive truth and sweating in vulnerability.

To be gay and proud is to step out of shame. I am humbled to live in a city where I can walk down the street and see so much support, but I pray that we soon live in a world where we don’t have to be proud.

We can just be.

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