Why Pride Matters to Us
By Mara Owens
Pride. It’s a tiny, but weighted word that most people take utterly for granted. For the LGBTQI community, Pride means the very real knowledge that we are not alone, that we are part of a bigger, broader community that provides, in the words of author Armistead Maupin, Logical Family. Logical Family is family which is chosen, when, sadly and all too often, biological family steps away or abandons us when our truth is voiced. The truth of being gay, or lesbian, pansexual, transgendered, questioning, queer, gender queer, gender non-conforming, anywhere on the rainbow spectrum, when revealed, can bring about hostility, outrage, even violence. So, in the instance wherein someone LGBTQI comes out of their closet and is not embraced or accepted by those they are born to, it falls to them to seek out their tribe, their people, those who will support and love, protect and cherish them.
Not so long ago Pride was a new and foreign concept that frightened some and panicked others. But, over the past several decades we have seen increasing awareness, and a move from fear-based confrontation, to reluctant tolerance, to increasing acceptance. In Pride marches in cities coast to coast, in countries all over the world, from Uganda to Finland, Argentina to Japan, people now come together to voice their unity, and acknowledge their existence and gratitude for one another.
Pride is also a way to honor the past. In the words of Alexis Danzig, one of the original members of NYC based AIDS activist group Act Up, “Pride matters because it gives you history.” From those who were at Stonewall to those we lost in the first days of the AIDS epidemic (still a global health crisis, despite medical advances), to those who have been courageous enough to stand up in areas where being out and proud is an act of daily bravery, we owe them (and ourselves) a debt of gratitude. And yet, we still have so very far to go. There are those who still resist the very notion of our existence and fight against our inclusion as equally vital participants in the world.
For the generation of youth coming up today, Pride is best voiced in the words of Emma Varney, who states: “Pride matters because it needs to matter. For my generation pride is about showcasing that love is love regardless of gender, ethnicity, political views, or religion. Pride is to tell the world that we are here, we are human and we matter. Pride is to be proud of who you are, where you’ve come from and where you are going. Pride is the acknowledgment that we have come so far, but still have so far left to go. Pride is to show the next generation, like my openly gay 16-year-old sister, that it is not only normal to be who she is, but that she should celebrate it every day. Pride is pride. And that is why it matters so much.”
Mara Owens has been a member of the LGBTQI community since before birth and works to support the mental well-being of youth and their families in the Rogue Valley.