WHAT PRIDE MEANS TO ME: Feeling the love on and off the dancefloor

The Keystone Student Voice celebrates June 2012 as LGBTQ Pride Month by hosting a compilation of personal essays written by students/youth across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on what “pride” means to them.

Philly Pride came and left without me giving much thought to it. As a recent graduate of college, I was broke and had a family to spend time with and dinner to prepare. But, while cooking with my girlfriend and listening to Ingrid Michaelson on Pandora, I remembered what my pride was: my healthy, beautiful family; my education; having a roof over my head in a great area of the city; coming home to someone who loves me and challenges me intellectually; my identity.

My sexuality is fully woven into every thread of the fabric of my life. Do I need to pay 10 dollars to be with large crowds of sweaty people still navigating their fabrics, or fully content in their identities, surrounded by the sounds of Beyonce and Brittney? Although I do enjoy a Thursday night on Sisters’ dance floor, this year Philly Pride just wasn’t where my heart was. A year ago, I was waving a flag or wearing a rainbow belt to every kind of gay shindig I could get to. I have matured and evolved in the past year and have begun to simply live my life. I am obviously active in the LGBTQ communities because of my work and my studies and passion for equity and justice. But now my pride is usually subconscious. My every day is powered by pride, passion, and love. When obstacles arise, I take them on. Can it be scary? Absolutely, but that’s life. It’s a roller-coaster of challenges — especially for a queer woman.

I have had the privilege of a supportive community of family, friends and mentors and hope to never have to walk the paths of individuals I’ve read about. I’m currently nose-deep in Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg and Jess’ story of love, loss, and the world of butches; and the pain these people suffered is insurmountable to that which we rarely endure here in the City of Brotherly Love, Sisterly Affection, and Genderless Independence.

I like to think of Outfests and Pride celebrations as moments to celebrate together as communities but also as a time of remembrance of the lives lost and silenced because of their pride. I am proud of my community of queer, straight, trans, fluidly ambiguous friends and family. I will never let a festival overshadow that. I am me. You are you. I live my life proudly everyday.

This post was written by Natasha Wirth, PSEC’s director of development and student at Arcadia University in Philadelphia.

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