Pride month is here!

To celebrate, I’ve decided to use this post to amplify the voices of people in the LGBTQIA community. I also conducted a PRIDE themed photoshoot in Historic Downtown Plano (I am a photographer after all hahah). Below are the responses I received from Gerry, Devin and Taneka after asking them about their experiences as members of the community.

What does “pride” mean to you? 

T: Pride to me has always been a "This is me and I accept me." It's bold. It's real. It makes me feel beautiful. How do you celebrate pride? The way I have celebrated Pride is by wearing the colors that were chosen for bisexual people and also buying from those who are a part of the LGBTQ community, supporting their business.

D: Pride is embracing yourself, your inner self and what makes you happy. Because I think everyone should be happy with that part of themselves that makes them who they are.

G: Pride is exactly what it says: pride in yourself. Know who you are, be true to who you are and know that it’s ok to do so.

If I were someone who wanted to publicly share my non-heterosexual identity for the first time, what advice would you give me? 

T: As long as you have accepted how you identify yourself, share who you are with a smile because sometimes it's hard to and it takes a lot of courage to stand out. So make sure to hold your head high and be proud of yourself for taking that step. 

D: I didn’t have the opportunity to share it myself, someone else outed me! But I would say, make sure you feel safe before you share. Make sure you’re comfortable and have the right people around you who you know love and respect you. Then when you’re ready, share your truth. The people closest to me already knew but I did have to cut ties with a few people. Once I moved to DFW, I was able to make new friends. Now I’ve been here for seven years.

G: Definitely do it when YOU are ready. Share it with people you care for the most but know that not everyone is going to be ok with it. But that’s ok. This is your choice. This is your life. Be open to people leaving or removing themselves from your life. Don’t take it as a curse but as a blessing because they don’t support you or accept you for you. When I came out, there was some drama but as far as my social circle, it felt like I got popular.

Would you say there is more or less acceptance of LGBTQ in DFW in the last 5 to 10 years? 

T: I feel like it's a bit of a mix. There is still some prejudice but there are those that are opening up to the community and opening up to learning.

G: I’ve been here since 2014, and in my experience, I’d say less. When I arrived, people were getting attacked, beaten or killed just for being gay or trans. My trans friend Malaysia  was killed after someone committed a hate crime against her. Nowadays, it’s probably a 50/50 split. While you have people who would accept you, there are those who don’t understand or try to understand a different perspective of life.

D: You do have to be careful. Some people just don’t get it. But it’s beautiful when people try.

How can someone be a good ally?

T: I think in order to be a good ally, speak up with the person you are standing up for. And be more than just talk too. Take action even if it's posting on social media. And it's important to listen. 

G: A good ally is always in your corner. This person isn’t afraid to correct you when they see you’re slipping or doing something wrong. They keep it honest, even if you’re causing a scene. A good ally motivates you, supports you and always want something better for your life. Even in instances when life is hard for them, they still celebrate you when things are going well. They genuinely care. Devin and I have been friends since 2014 and I can honestly say he’s been there for me, I love him dearly. This is my best friend. 

D: I’d also add that this person is there with you during your highs and low points. When you’re at your lowest, that’s when you see who your real friends are once you’ve hit hard times. Gerry and I been through thick and thin. My mom says people have ups and downs but real friends always come back together.

How can we build an atmosphere of inclusion, not just for the LGBTQ community but for other marginalized groups? 

T: I created a group for blerds a few years ago because I wanted a safe space for people who looked like me and who also shared the same interests that I did. To make people feel like they belong, you have to show them that. Ask them for feedback, ask them what makes them feel safe, what makes them feel heard and then present that.