This weekend was the 25th weekend of our local LGBTQ pride festival Capital City Pride located in Olympia, Washington. It was a joyous and rowdy occasion, filled with smiles, laughter and lots of stimulating, important questions asked.
Although my parents were always supportive of my bisexual identity and I never found myself being bullied because of it (a lot of this due to the nature of physical stereotypes and the fact that I've only held serious heterosexual relationships throughout my life), Pride is still necessary for me.
It isn't necessary in the sense of receiving support, but necessary in a sense that I give back to those who may not have been so fortunate in the acceptance department. For the past four years, I've been a part of the pride parade and tabled with PFLAG at the local Pride fest, and for the latter two of these years, Jared has joined me.
Making ourselves visible as a straight couple that stands alongside our gay, lesbian and trans friends is a vital piece of our activism in the community. PFLAG, which used to stand for "Parents, Friends and Families of Lesbians and Gays," is a national support organization with over 350 chapters--PFLAG Olympia, Washington being one of them.
Serving as Secretary and Social Media for PFLAG Olympia has been a wonderful, shaping journey throughout my teen years and now into my twenties. These people are my family, and stand as family for so many others. They are my second, third and fourth parents, grandparents, sisters and brothers. They always have supportive words and soft hearts.
Olympia, Washington has always been up on its game in terms of equality and ever since I've moved here back in 1994 (at the wee age of six weeks old), it has accepted me without question. Those who do not accept diversity do not embody the Olympian spirit. They do not define the Olympian experience. Those of us who love unconditionally outweigh those who do not.
I have found such solace in my Olympia LGBTQ family. The above photo is one of my favorites, a perfect example of the sheer happiness that comes from living honestly.
This year, many groups in the parade marched with signs that read: "Black Lives Matter," and similar messages to that effect, inspired by a recent shooting of two young black men by a white Olympia police officer. It is important that we recognize the many forms of injustice that still exist in America, in our communities and our neighborhoods. It is equally necessary to work together with those whom we might not fully understand to bridge the gap and enhance our compassion.
I'll end on a quote by James Baldwin, beloved African-American, gay writer:
"These men are your brothers, your lost younger brothers, and if the word 'integration' means anything, this is what it means, that we with love shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it, for this is your home, my friend. Do not be driven from it. Great men have done great things here and will again. You know and I know that the country is celebrating one hundred years of freedom one hundred years too early. We cannot be free until they are free."
Happy Pride month to all! Never be ashamed of who you are.