To me, pride means living authentically – being able to live and love freely, no matter your sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.
I first came out twenty years ago. ‘First’ because coming out happens again and again and again – in different workplaces, with different people, and as your own gender identity, expression and sexuality evolves. My mom’s reaction at the time was “well, this is not what I would choose for you”. I know her words were reflective of the times, of the heightened discrimination of queer people. Despite her initial reaction, she has been a non-judgemental supporter of everything I do.
I came out as bisexual at a time when straight people thought it was “just a phase”, and gay people thought I couldn’t fully commit. I’m inspired by how this binary thinking has begun to shift these last two decades, and I see more and more acceptance towards people of all gender identities and expressions. It’s still hard, mostly for trans and gender non-conforming folks, but things are changing. I now identify as pansexual, meaning I’m attracted – either emotionally, physically or both – to all genders. It is important to me to use language and claim identities that move beyond binary thinking. Identity is complex, and I’m thrilled that language is evolving to honour that.
I have so much pride in being part of the queer community. Queer people have unique relationships, perspectives, and insights into difference. I feel most at home in a group of queer people. Us queers have to do so much inner reflection, and have so much courage, to decide to go against the dominant heteronormative systems every day. It’s tiring. But, it’s also freeing. Because we get to be ourselves. I have learned so much from those who came before me, but also younger queers who continue to fight for equity and joy.
So, this pride month in Halifax, I’m celebrating who I am, fully and fiercely. Pride month is always a wonderful start to the summer, as the movement encourages people to come together in the spirit of acceptance, generosity, friendship, and love. Pride offers everyone the opportunity to belong and also provides an occasion for queers to educate others about our distinct histories and cultures. Pride is a celebration of connection, community, and engagement. I feel a lot of pride in Pride.
You’ll find me during Pride helping out with the Rainbow Refugee Association of Nova Scotia free BBQ, watching the Pride parade, and learning from Mariano Ruiz, international human rights and refugee advocate.
If we aren’t members of equity-seeking groups it is almost impossible to know or learn without listening. Without listening connections can’t be made, friendships can’t be formed, and barriers will remain in place. We all have a responsibility to act when we see members of the community being harassed, persecuted, and at the receiving end of injustice, not only that but we should be mindful of our own words and actions so as to not unknowingly cause harm ourselves. Finally, we have a duty to pour out love. Loving is free, it requires nothing from us, listening and loving without judgment is always felt, appreciated, and impactful.
To me, pride means leading with love in every encounter and welcoming people to show up authentically as themselves.
Being an ally is a lifelong commitment to learning and unlearning. It’s learning how to advocate and be a safe place for others. It’s unlearning the problematic assumptions and associations society has normalized. Also, being an ally is getting things wrong, and being a better ally as a result.
For an ally, pride is a time to show up to celebrate all the progress the 2SLGBTQIA+ community has made, to learn about the current struggles, and the history and culture. It’s a time to recommit as allies and revisit your why and how.
Why do you consider yourself to be an ally? How should you be better? How will you be better?
Learn how to be a better ally with our All In! Allyship and Inclusion Leadership training. Register now!