As a lesbian who spent the past eight years living in Malaysia, this year’s pride month holds special significance for me. This year marks my first celebration of Pride as a resident back in California, where I have the freedom to express my true self openly and without reservation. For me, Pride is a time for reflection, gratitude, and recognizing the progress we have made while acknowledging the struggles faced by LGBTQ+ communities worldwide.
Recognizing the Global Struggle:
Living in a country where expressing one's sexuality was met with limited acceptance served as a stark reminder of the ongoing struggles faced by LGBTQ+ individuals around the world. It helped to reinforce the importance of creating safe spaces and supporting the community in places where acceptance remains a distant reality. While there were no explicit Pride celebrations, I was lucky to be part of a small business that boldly created a space where equality and acceptance were at the forefront.
While I'm fortunate to be in a place this year where we can be loud in our Pride, it's important to acknowledge the countless places where it remains unsafe to be open about one's sexual identity. Pride serves as a powerful reminder of the work that lies ahead to ensure freedom, safety, and acceptance for all.
Navigating Challenges in the United States:
Despite progress, I am very aware that the U.S. faces its own challenges, with LGBTQ+ rights still subject to debate and marginalized communities experiencing ongoing discrimination. However, during these divisive times, Pride celebrations become even more significant, uniting us and highlighting the strength and resilience of the LGBTQ+ community.
I love looking around a Pride event and tuning in to the fact that everyone has had their own, very personal journey, yet we are brought together by this shared experience. It's a beautiful reminder that while our identities may vary, we are all united by the pursuit of embracing our true selves. Amidst the music, colors, and joyful revelry, we feel a profound sense of connection to the community, knowing that we have all faced challenges and triumphs to arrive at this point.
Feeling Whole and Embracing Authenticity:
Living in a place where our identities are legally acknowledged and accepted allows Pride celebrations to take on added significance. It is a time when I can fully embrace my authentic self and experience a sense of wholeness that is impossible when forced to hide or deny part of my identity.
I am immensely grateful for the incredible community of friends, family, and colleagues who have supported me throughout my journey. Their love and acceptance have played a profound role in shaping my Pride experience.
This year, I am particularly grateful to have joined a company, Bair Financial Planning, where I am encouraged to bring my whole self to work. Being part of a company that celebrates diversity and inclusion is a powerful affirmation of my identity and allows me to maximize my professional potential. As a firm, we wholeheartedly embrace and serve the LGBTQ+ community, and this commitment creates an environment where everyone feels understood and empowered.
As I celebrate my 39th birthday alongside Pride month this year, I am filled with excitement and profound gratitude for the freedom to live authentically 365 days a year. It is a time to acknowledge the progress made, recognize the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals worldwide, and amplify the voices of those still fighting for their rights. And when the celebrations are over, the memories created will continue to serve as a vibrant reminder of the power of love, acceptance, and community. I can’t wait to celebrate Pride San Diego style this year with my incredible partner Paige (family photo attached with our Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy Jolene)!