Pride: Turning On the Light
Submission by Julian, TNG contributor
I shuffled down the hall into Andrea’s room and sat on her floor in the middle of the rug. Looking down at the threads, at nothing in particular, I mumbled to her, “I……….. like guys.” She was the first person I had come out to… sober, that is. But my awkwardness was transformed by Andrea’s immediate response: “That’s wonderful! I’m so happy for you!” Her excitement changed an uncomfortable and self-doubting moment into a source of pride for me.
A few weeks later, I came out to Brian, another friend of mine. Again, I was hesitant and nervous but his first response was to congratulate me. Then he asked if we could grab drinks later that week; he was excited for me and wanted to hear how I was processing the whole event.
Brian saw the contents of my well-hidden closets and responded with openness and with an interest not stained by morbid, gossip-driven curiosity. Like Andrea, he gave me a sense of pride. Moreover, he refused to let me retreat back to my old ways. He knew I didn’t want to stay in the dark anymore, so even if I didn’t bring up my sexuality, he did.
Most of my closest friends are not gay, lesbian, or transgender, though many of them have been allies. I’m encouraged by their support and their casual way of advocating for the dignity of LGBTQ in their daily interactions. Most of all, I cherish those close straight friends of mine, like Andrea and Brian, who imparted to me pride and confidence. Not only did they encourage me, but they helped me celebrate what I had yet to appreciate about myself.
Allies are those who turn on the light in the dark and neglected corridors I’ve come to know so well. I’m referring to those hopelessly dim labyrinths that have been forged by the underside of an internalized heterosexism—where depression, anxiety, and self-loathing reside. For so long I had wandered those halls as afraid of my sexuality as I was of my happiness. However, when Andrea and Brian saw my earliest steps of coming out, their response brought to light the wonderful things which had been hidden for so long.
For me, the idea of “Pride” is about having sex with the light on—that is, exposing our darkened chambers to the midday sun. The categories of decency and shame push into darkness those who divert from the publicly acceptable standards of sexual behavior and gender identity. And so, many of us are left to fumble through the shadows alone, afraid to see the good in what others condemn. As a celebration, “Pride” invites us to bring out our partner/s, whips, and toys, our identities and role-playing outfits without shame. Pride shines light on our bedrooms [and elsewhere] and gets us to cheer!
And cheering is what my straight friends taught me to do. I am grateful for those who have bestowed in me confidence; who taught me how to live with pride, how to turn on the light, and how to celebrate. Our allies are those who regularly offer us their strength, comfort, and affirmation in an otherwise harsh world. Yet, I can only summarize my profound gratitude in the simplest of words: “Thank you.”
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