Ever since the beginning of the Stonewall riots and the numerous organizations earlier who fought bravely for the rights of our LGBTQIA+ community, we have achieved a lot in terms of human rights and the right to be your truest self in terms of gender identity and sexual orientation. That said, we still have a long way to go in the normalization and dismantling the societal and legally oppressive structures that confine us to this day. Thus, spaces like Pride allows LGBT+ people like me, an openly gay teen, to continue to fight for our freedoms to allow us to express ourselves in a society that has historically considered such to be taboo. Pride allows me to feel comfortable in who I am and allows me to show my own personal pride in being myself.
Being gay is something that has felt sort of strange to me: I had never really talked to anyone who was gay or met any guys who were open with their same-gender attraction at the point of my coming out at 14. Additionally, it almost felt abnormal and weird to be “gay,” and it was typically used as a derogatory term among my peers at the time. However, once I came out of the closet, I was relieved and felt a weight be lifted off my shoulders. Over time, I have felt more comfortable with who I am, and I have been able to come out of my shell more with my identity thanks to my supportive parents and a wonderful community.
To all the folks who identify as LGBTQ+, and to those who are closeted or have a strained relationship with your loved ones/friends because of your identity: it always gets better. No matter what, you are loved and will always be loved no matter who you are. You are always worthy of unconditional love and support, and there will always people who support you. When you feel ready to come out (which you will do all the time for the rest of your life), it will feel wonderful, and to be yourself is such a beautiful experience.
To all who are celebrating this month: have a happy, amazing, wonderful Pride.
Addison Pickrell (16; he/him) is a student at Technology High School, and lives in Santa Rosa. He is a member of the Sonoma County Junior Human Rights Commission and is an active participant within his Tech High community.