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  • Benjamin Smith

What Pride Means to Me

This year was my first year to officially come out as gay. This year will also be my first year to celebrate Pride. Growing up in an extremely conservative family, I kept my identity hidden and was afraid of what would happen if people found out I was gay. I fought internally for over 12 years with who I was. Slowly coming out to select friends over the course of the past few years has led me to finally open up, and I have found an amazing group of friends and supporters who accept me for who I am. What is more important is that I finally accept me for who I am. Pride month means acceptance. Acceptance of who I am, and that I don’t have to be ashamed of who I love or what I love. Pride means love; that I can love myself and others even when we disagree. Pride means hope; that one day we all will have equal rights and won’t fear for our safety, health, or jobs because of who we love. I am grateful for those who have stood up for LGBTQ+ rights to pave the way for me and others. Without the protests at Stonewall and the decades of LGBTQ+ activism, our lives would be different. We have come a long way in the path to equality, but there is still a long way to go. Pride is a celebration of the successes, but also a rally to keep pushing forward. To keep fighting until everyone has equal rights. To love our neighbors. To love our enemies. To do unto others as we would have them do unto us. This is what Pride means to me.

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