My First Pridefest Showed Me The LGBTQ+ Community I Always Wanted

My First Pridefest Showed Me The LGBTQ+ Community I Always Wanted

We're here, we're queer, get used to it.

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I've known I was bi since high school, but I did not come out to most friends or my family until last year in an article. I have never been ashamed of who I was—being bi is just another part of what makes me, me. It does not matter what someone's gender expression or identity is. I see people for who they are, not what they are, and my sexuality has always reflected that.

I remember when I first realized I liked girls too, things finally clicked. It made sense now why I always felt that I did not fit in in my small, conservative hometown. Most people I interacted with were not outwardly homophobic, but being gay was never something you were supposed to be. I was supposed to find a husband, get married, and raise a family. While this sounded like a possibility, I always felt like this was not enough. My self-discovery cleared up my internal strife, and finally life started to make a little more sense.

But then I was faced with the disparities between my lifestyle, the person I truly was, and the people all around me. It was not that I did not trust my friends and family or that I thought they would not love and support me if they knew I was bi. To me, it really was not a big deal. It was just who I was, end of discussion.

So, I didn't have the discussion.

I did not want others to be uncomfortable.

I did not want to talk about it.

I did not want to feel that I was wrong somehow.

And most of all? I did not want to open the door for someone to invalidate me and my sexuality.

So I stayed quiet.

College was supposed to be different, and, in a way, it was. I told my closest friends, and I eventually told the whole world. But still, I felt this void between the true me and the person I put out into the world. I hated that.

I'm finally done playing a double life.


I went to my first Pride Rally, something I had wanted to go to for years. Before, I never had the courage, the friends, the confidence. Now I do. So I went.

If you have never been to a Pride event, I ask you to go. Go with an open mind, and you will smile as you find yourself surrounded by people who love who they are. You will witness more love than you will find anywhere else.

It was at Pride I found myself waving a rainbow flag, watching the beaming sun shine off the glitter in people's hair and on their cheeks, where I could not stop smiling, where even the smallest gestures like intertwined pinkies between a high school couple meant the world.

It was at Pride I felt home, surrounded by new friends running around with flag capes and choreographing impromptu dance parties on sidewalks.

It was at Pride I had more people welcome and encourage me than my school or community has ever done.

It was at Pride I started to realize what a real relationship should be like, and what people mean when they say you should date your best friend.

It was at Pride I found a community so strong and so courageous and empowering that I felt I could singlehandedly take on all the sexist, homophobic, racist, xenophobic, transphobic people on this Earth — not that they would let me do it alone, of course.

It was at Pride I found the missing piece of myself.

I finally found the LGBTQ+ community I'd been looking for all this time.

We're here. We're queer. Get used to it.

Cover Image Credit:

Mallorie Jordan

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An Open Letter to the Best Friend I Didn't See Coming

Some people come into your life and change you forever—thanks, bestie.
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Dear best friend,

I wasn't expecting you when God placed you in my life. I had my friends. I had my people. I wasn't exactly open to the idea of new meaningful friendships because I had the ones I needed, and it didn't seem like I really needed anybody new.

Thank God that was false. Sometimes you meet people and you just know that you're going to be good friends with. Sometimes you meet people and you realize that there is no such thing as chance. I think God has a funny way of making it seem as if the things that happen to us are by chance, but honestly, that’s a load of crap. If the biggest moments of our lives were left up to chance, then I believe that would make God out to seem as if he didn’t care. It would make it seem as if He was truly abandoning me and making me face some of my most important seasons fully isolated. But you, best friend, are a true testament to the fact that God doesn’t just leave such important aspects up to chance. Thank you for taking a chance on our friendship, and thank you for allowing me to take a chance on what I didn’t realize would be the most impactful friendship in my entire life.

Thank you for being real with me. Thank you for not sugar coating things. Thank you for telling me when I have a bad attitude. Thank you for loving me through my mistakes. Thank you for supporting me in my decisions, even if it isn’t always the decision you would make. Thank you for wanting the best for me, and for making that your true intent behind the words that you say to me, whether they be constructive criticism or encouragement.

Thank you for being a goof with me. Thank you for putting me first. Thank you for seeing the importance of our friendship. Thank you for making time in your schedule for us to just sit and do homework, eat Mexican food, or sit on the porch and listen to music that emotionally wrecks you.

You’re one of a kind. You’re a shoulder to lean on. You’re a safe place. You’re a free spirit. You’re rough and tough, but your heart melts for the people you love and it’s obvious. You’re more than meets the eye. You are worth getting to know. You are worth loving. You pursue people. You are passionate about your future. You are everything that a person needs, and I really thank God that for some reason you continue to choose to be in my life. Thank you for literally dragging me up my mountains of fear when I want to stay exactly where I am at and wallow in the sadness. You bring joy—true joy—wherever you go. You are my best friend, confidant, and biggest fan. You will be the Maid of Honor, Godmother, and fun Aunt.

I used to think lifelong friendships weren’t really a thing. It just seemed like people always grew apart and forever was never a point that was attainable. Best friends forever is a cliché phrase that is continuously overused nowadays (sometimes, I even used to make light of it), but thanks for making that a reality. You are truly the best friend I could have asked for. So thank you for it all. You make life more fun, and I couldn’t thank God more for making an incredible human, friends with me.

I love you, pal!

JQ

Cover Image Credit: Julia Dee Qualls

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A Letter To My Ex-Best Friend

I wish things had ended differently.

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You were my best friend for eleven years. We grew up together, hit milestones together, and did everything together. We helped each other through our parents' divorces, the struggles of high school, mental health breakdowns, and everything else that was thrown at us. Whenever I needed a pick me up, you were the one I went to.

You were a part of my family. You could walk right into my house and no one would even bat an eye. You fought with my brother the way I did and messed with my parents the way I did. You would even text my sister. Most of my family vacations included you. I got into some huge trouble with you, but we also thrived together.

We helped each other choose outfits. I dragged you along to all my dates because I was way too nervous to go alone. We had so many nights of endless laughter over things that really weren't even funny.

You were my person.

But high school changed things. We began to gravitate towards separate friend groups. No more good morning texts, no more venting about the annoying girl in your first period that had a crush on the same boy as you. I stopped hearing about your boy drama.

And one day it stopped completely.

When we saw each other in the hallways, we pretended we didn't. Our memories faded and became just that; memories. We stopped asking each other's lunch plans and making plans with each other in general. We once knew so much about each other we couldn't even tell where one person started and the other ended. But now we're strangers.

And boy, do I miss you.

A lot of people feel bitterness towards their ex-best friends. Angry at the way things ended. I just feel a longing for the way things once were. Yes, our friendship didn't really end in the most civil way. But that doesn't take away from the years of tears, laughter, family vacations, and countless memories we made.

I don't feel angry at you, I just wish we never lost each other.

I think about you a lot. Whenever I see you in passing or on social media, I think about what things may have been like if we never parted ways. I think about how strong our friendship would have been. And it honestly breaks my heart.

I want you to know I have no hard feelings towards you. I know things will never be the same, but I will cherish our memories forever.

Thank you for being such a huge part of my life.

Thank you for not only helping me grow up but growing up alongside me as well.

Thank you for getting me through the tough times, from my parents' divorce to something as simple as a middle school break up.

Thank you for being my person for my entire childhood. You are the reason I'm here today and I will never forget that.

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