I decided to write this post after a discussion I had with two male colleagues: ‘is the pride still relevant? I mean, gays are accepted nowadays, so what is the reason for closing the streets and disrupting the whole day just for a party?‘
The second one simply nodded and said ‘where is a straight pride, heh?‘
This was the first year I was part of the Pride. S sent me a link for the Inter Tech Group, a forum of LGBT digital professionals, and I signed up straight away. Fast forward a few weeks, and we are at the gathering point, putting on our white t-shirts and getting ready to walk and celebrate. I felt this strange sense of belonging, of being part of something, of recognising myself in others.
As we started walking, I remembered my years in Greece. I remembered having this intense fear that came with growing up gay, having to hide my sexuality.
The theme of this pride was heroes. Now, I firmly believe that in some way, we all experience heroic moments, and we all become heroes for someone else. When I came to London, a fellow student was talking in class about his day, and then mentioned his partner. When he specified that his partner was a man, I felt shock; it was as if someone had opened a window and revealed that this closet you call home is a prison. People live their lives without guilt. The fact that no one reacted made me question this whole experience even more. How can this be?
By that time I was out to my friends, but not to my family. I became friends with this classmate, and being around him helped me to slowly started the process of truly accepting myself. In a way, he was a hero for me at that point in my life.
A few years later I was working with someone, and when we were talking about relationships, I asked him if he had a boyfriend. He froze, looked left and right to check no one heard, and asked me how I knew he was gay. He begged me not to tell anyone, and I assured him that I wouldn’t. We had a lot of chats about how he does not have to feel ashamed of it, and I could see him slowly relax into his own skin. Years later, I see him on Facebook living his life openly.
So, as we were walking down the street and people were there, cheering, supporting us, I felt completely overwhelmed even though I have been completely out for 10 years now. I felt supported, visible and accepted, and I truly wish I can go back to my 15 year old self and tell him that one day he will live this. Pride is not just a big party, it is a moment of visibility, an establishment of acceptance, and an encouragement to people all over the world that are struggling with their sexuality.
Yes, there is not a straight pride; but straight people are lucky they do not have to have one. They don’t have to come out as straight, they don’t have to be told that they are sick, immoral, or sinful just for being themselves, they don’t have to go through being rejected from their families and loved ones. LGBT people do, so this is why it is so crucial for pride to exist.
It is impossible for a boy in the closet to feel really, truly loved for who he is. Coming out is the first step towards loving yourself, and allowing others to love you. I am truly blessed for being where I am, and I hope, I truly do, that visible posts like this will help other. Be the support you want to receive.