My Story: A Reflection of Myself After Going to Pride

On October 26th, I attended the 2019 edition of the Gainesville Pride Festival, also known as Pride. This was my second Pride ever.

It was a time of joy and celebration, and it was satisfying to attend. It literally filled me with a sense of happiness to see people so happy to find community and to see my community take action. 

Pride is very much a great thing to have, because it is quite a humbling experience. It allows participants to truly understand what Pride really represents.

I was able to speak with Pride Student Union (PSU) President, Georges Obayi, to ask what he thinks about Pride. PSU is the main LGBTQ organization on the UF campus.

To Obayi, “The purpose of Pride is to celebrate and recognize all the progress we’ve made while not losing sight of the road we have ahead.”

I could not have put it better myself. Attending Pride made me feel more confident in my identity. As a bisexual woman, I used to be afraid of being my true, authentic self.

When I was growing up, I never really thought I could be myself when it came to my sexuality. I was constantly in denial of my newfound identity and becoming the person I always was inside.

To say it lightly, it was tough. But growing up and seeing LGBTQ rights being worked on and constantly advocated for helped alleviate my greatest fears.

In all honesty, I did not feel solid and grounded in my sexuality until I found my community here at UF when I started working in LGBTQ Affairs and began interacting with members of the LGBTQ community.

It wasn’t until I was able to see and speak to other members of the community that I truly felt confident in who I was.

This gave me the courage to come out to my family. I was lucky enough to have them accept me, but I cannot say that others have that privilege.

This is why Pride also represents the obstacles that we have ahead, just like Obayi said.

While Pride is a reminder of all the greatness that the LGBTQ community is, it’s also a reminder of how we constantly have to fight for rights for everyone, including those who have not even come out.

Our existence as members of the LGBTQ community is a constant struggle because we have to be constant advocates and spokespeople for our community, while also worrying about the stability of our existence in general.

There are people out there that want LGBTQ rights to not exist, which also means stripping us of our humanity. It’s because of people like this that made me scared to even come out in the first place.

I was so afraid that someone might do something to me to negatively impact my life once I came out, or if my fellow LGBTQ community members would have their quality of life reduced due to intolerance.

However, I knew I had the ability to fight for my rights and the rights of others who couldn’t personally do so themselves. This made me even more confident in who I am because it gave me a purpose.

Pride also made me feel good inside because it made me happy to see my friends feel comfortable coming out as their authentic selves.

I wish our world was a place that could accept everyone for who they are all of the time, but it was nice to see my friends have a smile on their face when they were with a community of people who constantly show their love and support.

While at Pride, I caught up with Shannon Scott, a first-year history major who attended Pride for the first time. 

Scott said, “It was the first Pride I'd ever been to and it was really encouraging to see so many people of many different backgrounds, ages and cultures all gathered together to celebrate. All in all, it was just a great unifying experience.”

To see people of various races, genders and diversity come together to celebrate the LGBTQ community was very humbling.

The LGBTQ community is really something that is worth celebrating. It is a home for many and can also be considered a beacon of hope. For me, I hope that more people find Pride in our community and have the ability to be their authentic self. 

Pride truly made me feel more at ease with the work I do being an advocate for my community. Obayi agreed with me when he told me how he felt after Pride, especially since he is a strong advocate with his work for PSU.

After Pride, Obayi said, “I felt refreshed because it reminded me of why we do all of this. Sometimes you get too caught up in your work but events like Pride show us there are people out there that depend on and appreciate us.”

Pride represents the hope LGBTQ communities have for the future. It’s important to value the now and work towards a better future, which is what happens at Pride. It is a manifestation and representation of the local community.

If it wasn’t for community, I don’t think I would be where I am today, so I am thankful for Pride.