(This is a republished post. You can view the original posting HERE.)
I've been thinking about this a lot lately...the question in the blog title. I feel like I had to address it, since this is my very first Pride month as an "out" individual.
Since I came out last year publicly, I have been trying to just live under my own terms. And part of this blog also should be dedicated to some of that, too.
I think that I have always know who I am, and who I liked. I don't think that was ever in question in my head. You always read about people figuring it out in their teens, or questioning themselves. That wasn't me. From a young age, I knew I was attracted to all kinds of people and that gender didn't make any difference.
And growing up in a religious area, I think that I also recognized that I was different than my peers in that regard. I think that it took the majority of my life so far to realize that different wasn't bad...but when you are younger, all you want is to feel connected with those around you. You want to fit in and be a part of the larger group. Be accepted.
That wasn't in the cards for me. I had a very small friend group who kept me sane, but I always knew that I wouldn't fit in. It wasn't only my sexuality that kept me outside of the larger groups, but it was definitely a part of it.
I kept silent about my attractions to the members of the same sex, simply because I knew that wouldn't be accepted in my small town. It is hard to hold your true self back...painful in many ways. I always asked myself, if I told my small friend group, how would they take it? Would they have accepted me back then?
Maybe. I didn't give them a chance, though. It wasn't about trusting them; it was about me. I didn't think that I was enough to hold them, even back then, if the truth came out. And that was the most painful aspect of my life for many years.
The last year of my life has been a real journey. And I feel proud of myself for how I was able to just BE for the first time in my life. Living it to the fullest and being out and open. FINALLY. For the first time in my life, I am trusting myself. If someone can't accept ME then I don't need them in my life.
So, as we slide into the first Pride month since I officially came out, I am finally LIVING with my own pride. I understand a little more now why this month is so important. Hiding for so many years of my life, playing the role of a good ally, has made me appreciate this Pride month even more.
Now, back to the question. What does Pride month mean to me? It's the embodiment of freedom. The ability that I enabled myself with to live out loud. To believe that the true friends would accept me. To be able to walk away from those who don't.
And even while knowing how important this month is to me now, I am trying to live every day this way. Every month is my own personal Pride month now. And honestly? That feels incredible.
I can say loudly, to anyone, I am pan and proud to be so! I love that I can say this...that I can live it and own it. It is such a critical part of who I am and it really is freeing to say it loudly.
Now, I can be loud. Now, I can be the advocate for the community in a different way. Now, I can just LIVE.
So, that's what Pride month means to me. Live, my friends. And party as hard as you can during June. It's a special month every year...but now it's even more so.