PRIDE Month has me thinking a lot about people, especially young people, who either don’t live near a big celebratory Pride parade or who live in areas where the freedom and safety of the LGBT+ community is threatened.
Despite the great strides made by this amazing community, there are definitely still so many kids struggling to find a reason to be proud of who they are.
If given the chance to speak to a young person like that, what might you say?
I think President Barack Obama put it best in his 2010 LGBT+ Presidential Proclamation: “I call upon all Americans to observe this month by fighting prejudice and discrimination in their own lives and everywhere it exists.”
To add to this, I would say that every human being is born with the ability to feel happiness and freedom and love. No matter our life’s circumstance, these feelings are our birthright, simply by being alive. And while we are alive, we have a choice to either tap into all that beauty or not.
To me, fully expressing your LGBT+ identity means deciding not to block your own happiness, freedom, and love – no matter what blocks you may see in the world around you.
But don’t just take my word for it. I asked some awesome people who happen to be members of the LGBT+ community to offer their own words of encouragement.
See what these cool and creative New York-based stars said below:
MARTI GOULD CUMMINGS – Originally from Maryland, Marti is a comedian, host, singer, and was featured on “Shade Queens of NYC” on FusionTV.
“Embrace every color of the rainbow. Embrace your weird, that is what makes you special. Embody love and spread it into the world.”
GEORGE SALAZAR – Originally from Florida, George starred on Broadway in “Godspell,” as well as “Spring Awakening,” “Here Lies Love,” and “Tick, Tick, Boom!” and will additionally be starring in the upcoming, much-anticipated “Be More Chill.”
“Growing up is hard, and when I was figuring out who I was, it made growing up even more difficult. But I trusted my journey, and you should too. If you ever feel unloved, remember that there is a whole community of people who are special and lovely just like you. And it may take some time, but they’ll find their way to you. They’ll be your tribe. And you will all love each other and support each other and be proud of each other. Pride Month is a celebration of that connection and a celebration of the beauty that lies in each of us. Be proud of you because I am.”
MERLOT – Artist, model, and soul singer, Merlot has been featured in PAPER magazine and many more publications. Merlot’s breakout single “Bad For You” is out now.
“I would tell any young person who doesn’t feel like they have any reason to be proud of who they are that they are loved, and there is such a large community of people out there who are just like them doing amazing things in the world. I grew up in a small town in the south, so I know what it feels like to not fit in and to be told that you’re less than. But I’m finally surrounded by like-minded individuals and creatives, and I’m blessed to get to witness firsthand the talents and amazing contributions made by my peers. You have so much to be proud of, and keep your head high knowing you have queer family out there who loves you!”
JANSPORT – Originally from New Jersey, Jansport is NYC’s 2018 Breakthrough Artist, a drag queen, host, singer with @childofstephanie, and was featured on NBC’s “The Voice.”
“As someone who grew up playing soccer and going to catholic school, I never thought I’d find myself where I am today. I’m a full-time New York City drag queen who wears a badge of Pride each day I paint on a face. Growing up, I was never proud, in fact, afraid. I’m sure you might be feeling this way too. Whether it’s your religion, your schoolmates, or even your family telling you that how you feel is wrong, know that there are 100 more people telling you that who you REALLY are is RIGHT! There might be days where you doubt yourself; there might be days where you hate who you are, and there might be days where you want to give up. Remember this: You are beautiful; you are unique; you have something to offer the world, and you are LOVED. The queer community is here waiting for you with open arms, READY to show you that love. If you ever feel like you don’t have an escape, trust me when I say there is someone out there like you feeling the same way, and you have each other. As a queer community, we have all felt that way. You have all of us. And if the community seems like it’s too big to be real, know that you have me. I am here for you, I will fight for you, and I love you.”