What does Pride mean to you?
What does Pride mean to me?
I want to talk to those of you who are still in the closet, or still exploring yourself. Wherever that takes you, it’s so important to be honest with yourself. I know it’s scary and can be messy, but the more honest you are with yourself, the more comfortable you’ll eventually become – and the sooner you’ll find your true identity, and get to meet the real you.
I am only confident enough to write this now because of that.
Where to start? I am in Sixth Form now, but I knew I was gay in Year 8. I just started finding guys cute, instead of girls. Not everyone will have this same experience I know, but that’s how it happened for me.
I was never bothered by being gay. And, to be honest, I never really felt like it was an important part of my identity.
Coming out has been quite a gradual process. I am fairly sure everyone knows now, but it has taken four years or so to get to this point. So, whilst I am confident in being who I am, I don’t really feel ‘proud’ about being gay. I just feel normal. I don’t know what it feels like to be straight, but I am willing to bet it’s roughly the same.
Sure, now and then I am a little (very) flamboyant, but I don’t think I radiate gayness. Nor do I make it an aim to make it known that I’m gay. If it is relevant I will tell someone, but I don’t introduce myself like, ‘Hello my name is Jacob and I’m super gay’. That’d be weird, even if it is the truth.
There is only one thing that strikes me as strange, and it freaks me out sometimes: I am part of a minority group, but I don’t feel like that. I am not a statistic, I don’t feel disadvantaged, or discriminated against. Maybe that’s why I don’t feel as passionate about being gay, because I never really suffered for it – and because I am just about the only out guy in my community. It’s hard to care about a movement without a face.
Luckily, being part of a minority hasn’t really had much of an effect on me – except for last year when one of my best friends stopped talking to me when he found out I was gay. If nothing else, that just cemented in me the idea that I was gay. That was the moment I fully committed to it, because if I was going to lose a dear friend, then at least I would adhere to why.
So, what does it mean to be proud to be gay? Does it mean waving a rainbow from the rooftops? Sure, that is an example of Pride, but that doesn’t suit me because I am quite an introverted person. Is it really the only way to be proud? I don’t think so.
I am proud – in a quiet sort of way. I think Pride means not apologising for who you are. I will stand tall, and do my best, and I will try and be a role model for those around me – gay or not. I will show what my best is, and show what gay can do. Pride is being proud of yourself, whoever you are. I like to think of it like this: would my younger self be proud to call themselves me?
To me, being an individual – being myself – is what I would look up to. So I will carry on and do my thing, and you can do your thing, and if you don’t like who I am then you can go away, because I won’t apologise for just being myself, for finding boys cute, for loving who I love.
You don’t have to be gay to be proud. You don’t have to be out to be proud. You don’t need to shout. You don’t need to be popular. You don’t even need to be a nice person. You just need to be yourself. And be proud of that.