Image by Ross Bell
Pride. It’s such a monumental word this time of year. Pride can mean many things to many people but to me pride is not just a word, or a month, but a state of living. Pride means waking up every day and being your true self with honesty and no fear. Pittsburgh has taught me so much about pride and being more open to who I really am. Pittsburgh is one of America’s LGBTQ+ hubs, because there is so much gay culture and support stemming from this city. Pittsburgh has pride and we aren’t afraid to boast about it.
When I asked some people what pride meant to them, words like “celebrate,” “self-love,” “strong,” and many more like this came up in conversation. Pittsburghers of all generations hone in on what pride means and celebrate it every day in this city.
Homosexuality for both men and women is becoming an average norm, not that it shouldn’t have ever been. However, it is with pride in mind that we reflect on previous years when our brothers and sisters in the 1940’s were being imprisoned in insane asylums, in 1969 where they rioted at Stonewall, to when they marched and protested in the 90’s. We need to remember and thank these men and women who were strong enough to lead us into the path of a greater acceptance. When asked what pride meant to them, one person had this to say: “Pride to me is being able to celebrate the people who came before me and the advances I’ve seen in my lifetime. It is important to me because mainstream visibility allows my boyfriend and I to live our daily lives…”
Another word associated with Pride is community. There is community within diversity and Pittsburgh is evidence of that through and through. I personally have found a home in men and women here within the LGBTQ+ community that I never imagined. One responder said,
“Pride is a special connection you feel and share with those who are LGBTQ+. In a world where so many are still against the community, pride is essential because it reminds us that we are meant to be here, and we are supported by each other. We share a special bond that nobody can break, and above all, we are strong.”
I couldn’t agree more with this response because it is during pride festivities and LGBTQ+ gatherings that I am able to look around and smile at the person next to me knowing that we are both strong enough to make it through coming out and being there to support one another.
LGBTQ+ alliances are also important and a huge part of the community. When so many people still fear us, and are ignorant to our lifestyle, it is essential that we have people who are the exact opposite that embrace us and fight alongside us. One LGBTQ+ alliance had this to say, “Pride to me is empathy. Going to pride parades and actually learning about the personal and political struggles of the community created an impact on me.” It’s funny how you can forget sometimes that not everyone has had to deal with the stares, or the bullying, or the anxiety of being LGBTQ+, but it’s comforting to know that there are people out here like this one who empathize and have a willingness to learn and understand.
So, when you are out celebrating pride this month, don’t forget to stop and reflect about what these parades and events are actually about. Don’t forget to smile to the person next to you, and be kind to everyone because they fought that internal battle we all know so well to be there. This year’s Pride in the Streets festival begins Friday June 8th and ends Sunday June 10th. However, pride is something to acknowledge and honor every day of every year.