Sunday, June 26, 2016

Proud To Be Me; Be Proud To Be You

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month as most of you know by now, and today marks the one-year anniversary of marriage equality in the United States.  It was one year ago that the Supreme Court stated that gay people could not be discriminated against based on who we love.

Just last week, President Obama celebrated the Stonewall Inn in New York City by naming it a National Monument.  It is the first national monument of its kind dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community's struggle for civil rights.

That fight for my community continues, by the way.  Nothing ended one year ago, but neither did life as we know it.  The sun came up on June 27, and we've passed the one year mark without the apocalypse happening.

In the spirit of the internet's own "Proud to Be" campaign which started on YouTube and has spread to many other types of media, I thought I'd take this moment to stand up and show my pride.

This is not an activity that I've always felt comfortable doing.  As I've written before on this blog, I've always known I was different than other people.  I just didn't know exactly what that meant.

I was always a little taller and a little bigger than most of my classmates.  I was always a little more awkward, and it took me until I got to high school to realize who I was.  It took me until my senior year of college to admit it, and it took me several more years to feel comfortable in the world.

Now, I'm very comfortable with the man I've become, and I look back and wouldn't change a thing.  Sure, I wish my parents were still alive, and I miss other family members who have passed.  The thing is that I have great friends and wonderful family now.  Those friends know who I am and accept me for who I am.

"If You Don't Know Me By Now..."

My cards went on the table many years ago, and that began the process of fully becoming the person that I have become.  The pressure of being outed or being exposed as gay has gone away.  Now, it's become a part of who I am, but it doesn't define who I am.

Truth is that cliche about standing up and being proud is so true.  It's because we our proud to be who we are that others come to understand us.  The last thing we should do is hide away.  When we hide, we let those that would oppress win.  It's a lot tougher to oppress someone when they look you in the eye or when they work with you or when they teach your kids or when they are your doctor or maybe even one day, your President.  Who knows?

We have to be proud of who we are.  We also have to understand that we're all in this together.  Pride without empathy is dangerous.  We've seen how destructive that can be.  Yes, I'm a proud gay man, but I understand that you may be different from me.  That's okay.  It's also what makes our country great.  I'm not the first to say it, but I'm proud of our great American tapestry.  I'm proud of being one small part of the many pieces that make up our country.

Warts and all, I'm proud of my country.  I'm proud to be an American.  I'm proud to be a resident of the world.  I'm proud we are living here at the same time.  Think about that.  We could have been born at any time, but we're here, together, right now.  Amazing isn't it.

Take stock of who you are, and be proud to be that person.  When you get to that point, life is truly amazing.

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