For me, Pride Season is a time I get to reflect on what it means to live an expansive life.

Having pride in my identity as a queer, polyamorous, gender non-conforming person came as a result of regularly asking myself, "How do I want to live in this world? What do I really, truly desire?"⁣⁣ Pride month serves as a reminder for me to reflect on the relationship I want to have with myself, and also how I want to relate to others.

Pride is so much more than an annual festival or rainbow-themed parties. It started off as a protest led by trans women of color—namely Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera—against oppressive forces that tried to get them to silence, shrink, and diminish their truth.

So many of us feel restricted by norms, traditions, other people’s expectations and desires of us, or the dominant (read: white cisgendered heterosexual male) narrative. So many of us let fear, guilt, and shame keep us from following our most genuine desires. We get into the habit of erasing parts of ourselves and making our truth small. We give our power away.

So many of us let fear, guilt, and shame keep us from following our most genuine desires.

But the legacy of pride is one of bold, unapologetic, self-celebration. It’s a way of proclaiming to yourself and to the world, "I deserve to take up space on this grand planet, just as I am."

It takes a lot of courage to show up, masks off, in the world—to speak and live your truth. It requires that we be vulnerable. It requires that we do the internal work to know ourselves first. The journey to authentic living can be a rocky and uncomfortable path, but it’s such a worthy endeavor.

The legacy of pride is one of bold, unapologetic, self-celebration. It’s a way of proclaiming to yourself and to the world, 'I deserve to take up space on this grand planet, just as I am.'

We asked members of the LGBTQIA+ Shine community to share what pride means to them. Below are their moving answers in celebration of their identity and the legacy of those that came before.

To me, Pride means...

"Having the courage to be authentic and live your truth even if you’re scared for your life or scared of being an outsider. Pride is knowing that it’s OK to be you even if you don’t see validation of that. I am a twenty-three-year-old pansexual living in the south and working for a state agency and while most of the United States is starting to accept the LGBT community, I am learning how to stay authentic even when I’m not sure what it could mean for my job."


"A sense of family. Pride is a community of others who have struggled to embrace who they are after being raised to be someone they’re not, and it gives me the strength to own my identity."


“Showing up, self-identifying when I feel safe enough, and learning from other LGBTQIA+ folx.”


Allyship, with, for, and surrounding humans who love each other. It also means making lots of space for people who are exploring, understanding, and unravelling barriers.”


"The ability and freedom to be who I am and openly love the persons I choose without stigma and shame."


"It’s the one month of the year that I can be unapologetically myself. I don’t have to hide behind anything. Pride is the one month that people come together. To love each other through the darkest & brightest times. To remember that life always gets better. Even when we can’t see it."


“To me, it’s a celebration of resisting white supremacy. The (male/female) binary and its roles are a product of colonization! Queer is indigenous. It’s also a protest against police, who never protected QTBIPoC (Queer, trans, black, indigenous, people of color) or have their safety/interests/wellbeing in mind. Police have harassed, assaulted, and killed QTPoC (Queer and Trans People of Color) for decades. Every day, institutions and systems tell us trans lives don’t matter, Black lives don’t matter, immigrant lives don’t matter. Pride honors the trans women of color who fought against the systems of oppression that wanted to erase queerness. To me, pride is celebrating the past that led us here and the future of intersectional equity we continue to fight for. Pride reminds us that we matter.”


"Pride is the opportunity to be openly vulnerable, expressive, loving, and honest. Pride is being unafraid of your true self and, if we’re lucky, met with understanding and support. Pride is also feeling a part of something and connected. When we are part of a community we experience feelings of acceptance and nurturance."


The freedom to be me.


“Pride means accepting myself for who I am. Pride is embracing and being embraced by a community that is diverse and beautiful and eccentric and anxious and brilliant and strong and fierce. Pride is love.”


"Pride is being happy of what my love means to me and how I can define it with certain people, regardless whether I love a boy or a girl. Pride is knowing that love is love and doesn’t discriminate. Pride is standing up for my fundamental right to love and supporting everyone else who has been judged by who they love. Pride is community and love for everyone to be free to love."


Pride is a form of belonging and being accepted for who you are.”


"To me, pride means being your authentic self. Learning how to show the world your true colors, and speaking up for people who can’t find their voice. We are all in this together, and I think we forget that, sometimes. That’s what the LGBTQ+ community is for. Pride is about standing together, united, and lifting each other up. Being there for each other."


"Pride to me is being vulnerable and showing my true self, all of me, regardless of what society has to say. It’s celebrating and supporting not only ourselves, but the ones we love and bridging the gap of marginalization."


"Pride is being genuine and open of who you are regardless of what other people will say."


"Pride is that time of the year when we show the whole world that we are worthy of respect, we are worthy of recognition, and we should not be afraid to be ourselves. Pride is the time when we show how valuable we are, how needed we are, and how different and gloomy the world would be without us."


"Pride means letting love guide you through a sometimes unfriendly world; seeing others’ fears as a reflection of them and not you; staying grounded and reassured in your own experience; and having the courage to authentically express yourself."


"For me, it means not being embarrassed about being polyamorous and attracted to both men and women in a very Christian conservative area. There is a huge underground community of people who are not vanilla in this area for this reason. I'm just not embarrassed that I can love more than one person romantically and be attracted to different types. There's an infinite amount of love. If you make a new friend, you don't love your other ones less. I don't think romantic love is different. I know being poly or bisexual isn't for everyone and I respect that, but I am not ashamed that I can love more than one person. I think it's a positive quality."


“Pride is feeling completely at ease in who I am, and feeling comfortable being the real me with people I care about.”


"For me, Pride is about resilience. I'm only 28, but when I celebrate Pride, I tap into a legacy of resistance—from Compton’s Cafeteria Riot in 1966 to the Stonewall riots just three years later to the present struggles of transgender people, and especially TPoC. American society has tried to kill my community and break our spirit and drive us into the shadows, but we still live & love as we are to the fullest and support each other in our struggles. Trans people are some of the poorest people I know in terms of material wealth, but we're always reaching out to each other in support and solidarity—and that's powerful stuff."


"Pride means proud. Pride means THIS IS WHO I AM, and no one can change that. It means proud of who you are and who you love despite others!"


"Pride is living my truth and accepting others’ truth as well. Regardless of any label with which I choose to define myself, Pride is my acceptance of me—in my truth—by me!"


"Pride means never having to apologize for who I am. I fought against myself for years—I was determined not to be gay. In my mind that was the worst case scenario, it just couldn’t be true. As I grew older, I met people who were not ashamed and were proud of who they were—and that changed my life. Now, I am the person someone else can look to and think, ‘I want to be proud, too.’"


“Pride means being comfortable with yourself and accepting that you are perfect the way you are. It is an ever evolving journey and a process; one that involves checking in and growing as you learn more about yourself over time.”


"Pride gives my community an opportunity to be out and open about who we are without fear of judgment. Pride reminds LGBTQ people to be authentic in a time that encourages us to be ourselves, rather than hide in a metaphorical closet."


"Honestly, pride to me not only means accepting yourself and others, but sort of welcoming a new beginning. I get it—some people are basically born knowing who and what they are, but some people aren't, and finding who you really feel like being is great. Pride brings up a bunch of new opportunities to bring out you, whether you are dancing in full rainbow or simply telling your parents, ‘Hey, I'm like this, and it's OK.’"


“It means letting go of the constant shame of having to come out. When I was younger, coming out felt like telling someone that a relative died. Pride means I can celebrate my full Black gayness/queerness/pansexuality/NolaDarlingness unapologetically. It’s just fun.”


It means celebrating our right to equality. Too many of us take it for granted. Being gay isn’t a choice.”


“Pride, as in pride month, means being unashamed to be who I am and live life as myself as much as I safely can.


“Pride means being who I am. I am proud to have the guts to love and not suffer from shame of simply being who I am. Shakespeare said it best: ‘This above all to thine own self be true.’”


“Being who you are and loving yourself.”


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