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Pride and Joy

Hey gals and pals! My name is Ilene and I am a writer based in Southern California. While I tend to write short fiction, I thought I would share with you some words in celebration of the five-year anniversary of the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States. While most would take this space to self-promote, the only thing I want to promote through this is all of the charities, organizations, and non-profits dedicated to helping out the LGBTQ+ community.

Pride: /prīd/ (noun)
         1.     a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.

          2.     confidence and self-respect as expressed by members of a group, typically one that has been socially marginalized, on the basis of their shared identity, culture, and experience.

A definition easier to establish on paper than in the heart, pride has become an emotion that feels so tangible, you can inhale it.

It took me years to recognize that I was bisexual. The B in the LGBTQ+. The one who is “just going through a phase.” I was a late bloomer, and I didn’t figure out that part of my identity until I was 18, but there were so many moments of my life that I could have figured it out earlier if I were to have just listened to my chest. It spoke to me in moments of representation that surrounded me, such as when the neighbors across the street hung their rainbow flag up as high as it would sail on June 26, 2015. I watched from my childhood bedroom window as her and her girlfriend unrolled each stripe, from the red to the orange to the yellow to the green to the blue to the purple. They held each other for the first time in their front yard, holding on tight while looking up at their flag that they no longer felt ashamed to keep folded up inside. They were both in their 50s, but this was the first time they could be out of more than just the closet. 

I was proud that day, but pride as a whole is different. Pride is every single one of the 30 days of June, and every single day thereafter. Pride is about the gut punch you get when you overhear a co-worker mention “her wife” or “his husband.” It’s about the unwittingly small smile that takes over when you see two trans women walking down the street hand in hand and nobody but you notices. It’s about knowing our history and everything that we have fought for since the first stone thrown at the Stonewall Riots on June 28, 1969 and the decades before then. To look back and see how hard we have fought through every unjust law and societal practice, pride takes its root at our core selves and is exhaled through the very love we breathe.

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