This year, there is a lot more pride within me than there ever has been. I’ve grown up knowing I am gay, and I have had a decent life. I’ve been fortunate enough to have people who support me and my decisions as I’ve grown older. In November of 2012, I joined the military for a variety of reasons, but when I left my family, friends and my partner, DJ, for six months of training I felt like all of that was being put into the closet not knowing what to expect and fearing for the worst in an already rough environment. It took me about three months of secrecy before I found myself in a comfortable enough place to let myself slowly come out. I have become such a strong man in many ways, but I have gained a new level of pride for gays, especially for the gays I serve this country with and all the ones before. My respect goes to all gays and thank you for a minute of your time.
Pride is the time of year we can be who we are and hang out with people that are like us or support us. It’s a time to see friends we don’t get to see other than this time of year. Each year, as Pride grows we show others in Utah that we are here and there is a lot of love to go around.
For me, Pride is a family reunion. I get to see and catch up with people I’ve met over the years. We don’t always see each other or hang out, but we know we are still connected. The Pride Festival is the perfect place to reconnect.
Pride is a time to reflect on where we’ve been, where we are, where we are going. Pride is a time to remember the horrors of our past (and present), and a time for us to teach our history to the newly out, especially the young ones who have no idea how many people fought for them to be able to come out so young. They fought at the very peril of their lives. In fact, many people gave their lives so we could be free to live authentically.
Pride is a time to speak out against bigotry and discrimination. We don’t do that enough anymore, with all the partying and celebrating. Pride is a time when community leaders need to speak up, speak out, and call out those who refuse to recognize our civil rights. By all means, let’s party like it’s our birthday, but let us not forget what it took to get here. Let us not forget how much further we have to go. Let us not stand idly by while the ultra-conservatives try to throw us back in time.
Pride is a safe time, a safe place, to come out!
So come out, one and all. And bring your friends — all your friends: The queers, the gays, the lesbians, the bisexuals, the trans* folks, twinks, butches, bears, dykes, femmes, lipsticks, bois, questioning, CD, TS, TG, MTF, FTM, genderqueer, intersex, queens, kings, sister-brothers and brother-sisters, the Cissies (Cisgender), the Hets (heterosexual), allies, learned, curious and even the enemies.
We are all related. We are all connected. As we spend time together, the plethora of “differences” within our big, diverse human family helps us recognize and honor the divine that is within each one of us.
Pride is my happy time, my happy place. Come see me in the GenderZone.