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What does gay pride mean to you?


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Thanks for the thread Steve. I finally had a chance to read through it, and I appreciate the sharing. I wanted to share some thoughts from an event tonight. Every Tuesday night Communities of Belonging hosts a community meeting. Tonight was my night to host, and I wanted Pride Month as my topic. Last year when I hosted, I chose, How you were touched by Pride. Anyway: After the grounding, I led a discussion with the check-in question - What does Pride Month mean to you? (inspiration acknowledged) 

As host, I kicked it off. The main thing I think about, when I presented the topic was, freedom. I don't think of anything as boastful or other negative connotations with pride. I really see it as something deeper, more about a celebration of self. Being on a journey over the last three years or so in a search for self, I can appreciate and connect with it. Who doesn't want to be able to say, here I am, and be seen and heard? Others shared their personal experiences, from different orientations. I really liked one of our older members talking about it being like 'our' Christmas. I found one persons thoughts interesting, having a pretty strict religious upbringing, that it was drilled into him from an early age that 'pride' was bad/evil, in all its forms. He has had to unlearn that - and let it go, because it didn't align with his personal beliefs once he was grown. 

My second discussion topic was, how can we be better allies to the queer (I prefer this term) individuals throughout the year? With the concept of expanding the concentrated awareness during June to the everyday. I had not thought about this question until I posed it. My main thoughts are around acceptance and also calling people to task. I always think of the phrase 'Be careful who you hate, it could be someone you love'. This comes up in context of my extended family, in both directions, some are haters and some are members of a community that they hate. Also the sobering thought of 'Right now, someone is willing to take their life rather than come out'.  All of this is just unacceptable. I work on the basic premise of acceptance. Oh that is who you are? Cool. But other discussions opened up the topic of Dignity. And the one that really stuck with me was being Affirming. To not just be accepting, but to let people know that you are an ally. Being accepting can be passive, the other person takes all the risk in trusting that there is acceptance on the other side. So that is something that I can take into my future, not to just be accepting and calling people out, but to be affirming. 


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Your post reminded me of my own coming out story. First off, I knew my truth very early on. But I really struggled with self loathing and shame. In the time period when I grew up, it was quite the norm to denigrate the masculinity of a gay man. If you were gay, you were also a sissy, at least in the minds of the ignorant. And I too was ignorant. Therefore I was actually afraid that I was going to morph into a much more effeminate version of myself. I'm not kidding. That's what I thought was going to happen. And that caused me enormous distress. It really wasn't until I was in college and really exploring the gay lifestyle and gay clubs, bathhouses and the like, that I started to understand that wasn't a reality. Actually the reality was that the stereotypical effeminate gay male was but a small subsection of the gay community. That discovery is what allowed me to develop a sense of self worth, as ridiculous as that sounds today.

You had to grow up in that time to understand how denigrated we were then, and how we were perceived by the general public.

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