Everybody Say “Love”

August 16, 2017

By Matthew Gates

Matthew Gates, 22, is from Bowie, Maryland and is currently studying Journalism at Hampton University. He is an active advocate for the queer and bleeding disorders community, using various platforms to spread awareness. As an Eagle Scout, one important slogan that Matthew carries, in his everyday life, is the saying “do a good turn daily.” Matthew believes that kindness is contagious and when we allow ourselves to be a light and spread kindness, people find beauty in that are encouraged to do the same.

I was 18 years old when I attended my first Pride. Beforehand, I was under the impression that my “pride” wouldn’t extend beyond my late night twerk-a-thons that I had by myself when everybody was sleeping. I had no idea that queer spaces of celebration, such as Pride or gay clubs, even existed.

When I went to college and met other queer people like me, my eyes were almost immediately opened to these spaces. I can vividly remember the first time I rose from the escalator during Pride in my city, being greeted with the warm sun on my face, rainbows in the air, and glitter floating by. It was in these moments that I realized it was okay to be me.

As a 22-year-old graduate, I almost jump — actually twerk — for joy when Pride season comes around. My friends and I come together and celebrate our queerness, without limits!

Pride Month is a time when people of the LGBTQ+ community come together and celebrate themselves. Parades and festivals take the world by storm, as the prideful month advances. Standing in your truth can be a hard thing to do, so these colorful spaces of celebration are a reminder to people everywhere, of all sexual orientations and gender identities, that they are beautiful.

I caught up with a few people that attended various pride celebrations, to get an insight into what it meant to them.

“Pride month gave me a chance to appreciate a part of myself that I’m usually expected to repress and not embrace. It’s time for me to love ALL of me,” said Chris, a 23-year-old from California.

“I remember stepping off the metro and seeing rainbows everywhere. The sun was shining, beautifully, and everybody was carefree and happy. For once, I felt completely comfortable in my skin,” said Kaitlin, a 19-year-old from Virginia.

Remember, It Gets Better

I recently had a chance to speak with Brett M. Peters, and Justin Tindall from the It Gets Better Project. They enlightened me to the organization’s experience at Pride events across the US, their World Pride experience in Madrid, and some ongoing, supportive efforts for the LGBTQ+ community.

During pride month, American Eagle and Converse announced pride collections to help celebrate the month. A percentage of the proceeds from their sales contributed to the It Gets Better Project.

Throughout Pride season, the It Gets Better Project propelled a visibility campaign on social media. Through the website Cheerity, people were encouraged to upload photos of themselves at pride, with the hashtag #PrideMarch. With over 3,600 photos shared, the campaign was a success. The organization felt this campaign would help queer people from around the world, closeted and open, understand that there is a plethora of love, support, and acceptance waiting on them.

The organization has both national and international affiliates. They all collect and share their stories- to help promote equality and understanding in their local communities. The organization was excited to attend World Pride in Madrid, where they marched and celebrated, alongside their European affiliates.

In the end, all we need is love.

Overall, pride was a joyous time of queer celebration. It warmed my heart to see so many people, of varying sexualities and identities, unapologetically taking the streets by storm. Through the parades, festivals, and dance parties I can truly say that not only I, but also our community, made lifelong memories.

Remember: Wherever you are, however you identify, there is a world full of support waiting for you. It’s a great day to be the best you.

2019, Here We Come

In 2019, World Pride will take place in NYC. This year will mark the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. This is a time for the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate their half-century of progression toward liberation.