Pride Month celebrates LGBT community

Diana Fontanilla, Staff Writer

When I think of the word “pride” in observation of LGBT Pride Month, celebrated this month, I am drawn back to October of this school year. I had decided I was done just sitting back and pretending to be a person I was not. I was also afraid still of the person I was and how everyone else would react if they knew. So I took a chance and told my journalism teacher of my situation and if I could talk to the rest of the class about it.

I stood in front of the room and cleared my throat a little to no effect.

“Hi everyone,” I said with bubbling anxiety. “I just wanted to let you all know that I am transgender and I would like to go by Diana and use she/her pronouns from now on.”

Over the past months, I’ve made a lot of progress toward becoming who I want to be. I began seeing a therapist, I started coming out to people, I dressed more feminine and I even went to my first pride celebration at NOVA Pride. Journalism was the first class I had ever come out to about being transgender, and the reception of this news was overall positive. There were a couple of questions, but in the end, it’s all worked out. I feel safe in this class and I feel valid and real. My name appears in bylines the way I’ve always wanted it to.

Pride is important because it embodies just what it says on the box. Many people in the LGBT+ community always felt as though they didn’t have the right to be proud of who they were in the face of oppressive groups who wanted to condemn them to hell. Pride gave the community members a medium for which to celebrate how amazing and beautiful they are.

As the organization does each year, D.C. Pride will be hosting a number of enjoyable activities and events to celebrate Pride Month this June.

“Every year, [D.C. Pride has] a parade, a festival and then a concert, [this year] hosted by Hot 99.5. [There is a] gala lunch on Friday [June 9], the parade is Saturday [June 10] and the concert is Sunday [June 11],” senior Justin Dryer said. “It’s completely different from any festival; it celebrates anyone and anything you believe in no matter if you’re lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, asexual, pansexual [or] anyone [else]. Everyone is very comforting and kind.”

These official events can be big celebrations, which might be a bit overwhelming for some who prefer to celebrate on their own or in smaller groups.

“Pride Month is all about having a month to say ‘I’m LGBT+ and I’m proud to be,’” senior Emily Herman said. “This is who I am and no one can take this away from me. I’m a little more vocal about [LGBT+ issues and information] during this month. In terms of celebrations, I don’t do anything huge. At the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) club, we are planning on having a big club party event.”

Events throughout the area and country also feature educational aspects in addition to celebrations.

“There’s a lot of medical professionals [at the events] because our community does not get the best healthcare,” senior Stephen Wehlburg said. “Many sex education classes only teach about heterosexual relationships [and contraception]. The purpose [of the professionals at these events] is to educate many people [within the LGBT+ community] on [STD prevention and safe sex practices] for non-heterosexual couples.”

This educational outreach mostly began due to the large death count of gay men who died during the AIDS crisis in the 80s, which was caused by lack of knowledge about STDs and HIV. Now, the medical community is still playing catch-up because many school systems still do not adequately address the issue.

Pride is a concept that should be celebrated all year long, but Pride Month in June is a specific time to appreciate the beauty and strength of the LGBT community. We have endured horrible things and we will continue to overcome. This Pride Month and always, I will continue to pursue my own happiness by being unapologetically me.