On October 11, 2018, I posted my coming out story to Odyssey. It had been for four years since I had initially said the two most terrifying words to my cousin, I'm bi. For a while, I was flying under the radar a bit. I still live in the conservative parts of Georgia, and even though I wanted to be as open as possible, I was still scared for my safety.

Atlanta has its pride parade during pride week in October, probably because we would all melt in June. I went to my first ever pride event this past October, and I was so moved. The moment I walked past all of the protesters and onto the streets of midtown Atlanta, I could instantly feel all of the love and support in the air.

No one cared why we were at pride. All anyone knew is that we were either apart of the community, or that we were an ally. Everyone there celebrated and wanted to make a difference in the LGBTQ+ community. Since I live in such a conservative state, and I know what it's like to not have the people you love to accept every part of you, and it's comforting to see how many people will genuinely support me for me.

If you aren't apart of the LGBTQ+ community, you are welcome at these events, but whatever you do, don't make this about you. If you're straight and at a pride event with your LGBTQ+ friend and decide to post on social media about make sure to include your friend if they're out, or post about how important it is that we fight for the right to have equal rights for everyone. Pride events and parades are more than just excuses to post on social media.

Pride is a protest. It started as a protest after the Stonewall riots, and it has continued every year since. It used to be illegal for gays and lesbians to congregate together, and now we're allowed to get married and have events like this in America without the fear of being prosecuted. There is still so much that this community needs to fight for though. Some same-sex couples aren't allowed to adopt, businesses can refuse to serve us because of their religious beliefs, and teens are still ending homeless because their families don't support them. Also, being gay is still illegal in a lot of countries. You could be prosecuted or put to death for liking someone of the same sex.

Everyone is always welcome at pride, but before you decide to come, think about this: Are you showing up to Pride for the right reason?