Hickey: The subtle side of prideWritten by Emily Hickey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
During pride season, I can typically be found wearing a rainbow flag as a cape and shouting from the top of my lungs, “Yay for being gay!” No amount of protest or discrimination could bring me down during that time.
For years, I’ve been aware of those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community who remain silent (or so I thought) and often couldn’t understand why. However, throughout the last year, my entire understanding of gay pride has grown.
Through a series of very fortunate events, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know a very beautiful person in the LGBTQ community who rocks a subtle sort of pride. When we first met and had conversations about gay pride, it was an “agree to disagree” type of situation. At the time, my perspective was the louder our voice the more our opposition would have to listen, but this person thought differently.
I wholeheartedly respected this person’s decision to be subtle with their pride, but I still had a great deal of difficulty understanding how it could have a stronger or even parallel impact on our fight for equality. I continued to overcome my stubbornness and started learning more about their perspective, which revealed the beauty behind an LGBTQ member with a subtle pride.
To my surprise, shame or embarrassment had nothing to do with this person’s subtlety. Instead their definition of gay pride was centered around their desire to be accepted as a human being before being labeled a part of the LGBTQ community. Not trying to be disconnected from the gay community, this person explained they felt they would still have a strong impact on our fight for equality through this viewpoint.
After many conversations, I began to understand just how powerful it was for people outside of our community to see us just as human beings before members of the gay community. Putting my rainbow flag momentarily aside, I tried it.
Instead of immediately coming out to every new person I met, I held back for a short while until an opportunity presented itself to share my sexual orientation naturally in conversation. The value that conversation held had a stronger impact on me than any protest I’ve been too or parade I’ve walked in. Holding that sort of control over a person valuing me as a human being was so encouraging. I truly felt like they saw me as an equal instead of automatically seeing me as someone who was different.
While I am in love with the loud and proud advocacy during pride parades, everyday conversations and through writing this column, I have discovered a new perspective on gay pride. I now understand how those in the LGBTQ community who have a subtle sort of pride free of shame and embarrassment is a brilliant advocacy effort.
In a time of such pride in the Toledo area, I’d like to dedicate this column to that beautiful person who opened my eyes and challenged my mind. I am even more proud to see how our equality efforts are even being heard from behind the scenes of gay pride extravaganzas.
So thank you for the opportunity to learn more about your life and the way you live it. It has been a truly beautiful journey and I can’t wait to continue to learn more.
Happy Pride, everyone!
Emily Hickey is an advocate for the LGBTQA community through Toledo Pride and OUTSKiRTS.