What Pride means to me
Pride is a celebration both of how far we've come and the vast potential for where we can still go
When I reflect on Pride, I first must acknowledge that Pride is not something I grew up with. I was a naive and sheltered kid who grew up with a deep paralyzing fear that as a girl, I would be trapped for the rest of my life in a male body that wasn’t mine. When I hit puberty, I felt betrayed by my own existence, increasingly horrified that being a girl or growing into a woman was utterly impossible—that I was forever invisibly cursed and imprisoned. As a teenager and young adult, I did what society at the time taught me to do—I suppressed the fear and lied to myself for years. When I finally came to a place in life where being a woman in my own body seemed remotely possible, I was terrified. Terrified of turning into someone else, terrified of this insurmountable mountain I had to climb. I say, “Had to” because the suppression, fear, and lying to myself had taken a profound psychological toll. The fear had turned to anger, which in turn had manifested into an intense amount of self-loathing and distain for my own life. It was either literally die or climb that terrifying figurative mountain.
When I reached the metaphorical summit of that mountain, I cried… I cried long and hard. Not only was it possible, but I had done it. And once I did, I was suddenly set free. My life was mine, authentically mine, replete with all the potential of a meaningful life. Where once only despair and hopelessness existed, I found courage, confidence, and not only the will to live, but the strength to thrive. In my fear of becoming someone else, I found the joy and elation of becoming the best version of myself. A continual journey to be sure, I was nonetheless truly excited to be alive.
Now as I reflect on Pride and what it means to me, I do so with unwavering gratitude, for my life, my womanhood, and my sanity. I do so with the genuine hope that every single one of my fellow LGBTQIA2+ family here at UNR, as well as those around the world, find their own path from the darkness to the light. When I celebrate, I cry tears of joy that they all might feel the same overwhelming sense of optimism that can await them on the other side of the mountain. I celebrate every milestone and victory from Stonewall to Obergefell v. Hodges. I celebrate the fact that despite the challenges we all continue to face, that we will continue to overcome ignorance, discrimination, hatred, and fear.
While the journey of our lives, always being fraught with perils waiting in every shadow and around every corner, can dissuade us at times, even cause us to lose hope–we must be bold, brave, and eternally intrepid. For me Pride is a celebration both of how far we’ve come, and the hope, joy, optimism, and potential for where we can go—where we can go together united against the fear in ourselves and those who oppose us.
(Jocelyn Simmons is majoring in both Sociology and Gender, Race, & Identity at the University, and is an Undergraduate Researcher of the Experience, Practice, and Spectrum of Love as well as Commissioner of Social Justice and Policy, the ASUN Department of IDEA, formerly the ASUN Department of Diversity and Inclusion.)