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Feature: What does PRIDE mean to you?

Finding Pride


What Pride means to me is a question that I’ve asked myself many times over the years; I’ve always struggled to answer it. As I’ve learned about the history of Pride and the Stonewall Riots, I’ve noticed that Pride has become synonymous with courage, resilience, and strength. But to find one’s own courage, resilience, and strength is another story completely.


I’ve lived in Lubbock my entire life, believe me when I say that I know what it feels like to be the queer kid from West Texas. I had a number of classmates at the end of junior high write, “Have fun at the gay school,” in my yearbook when I chose to attend one high school over another. Was there malicious intent behind those words? There might not have been. I can chalk it up to 13 year olds being young and dumb, but the chosen vocabulary and language doesn’t exactly foster an environment of acceptance and inclusivity. So I kept quiet and I said nothing.


When I got to high school I found myself with my first group of LGBT friends, and it became clear that by identifying as bisexual, I was the confused and scared “baby” underclassman of the group (so maybe just LG friends?). Again, I kept quiet and I said nothing. I was shy and self-conscious, and why was I going to argue with these kids that were older than me? So I started calling myself gay. It was easier. I had the labels, “lesbian,” “butch,” “stud,” all thrust upon me, but none of these labels I ever claimed or chose myself.


When I started college, I joined the Gay Straight Alliance (now Gender and Sexuality Association). I met my first trans friends, all ftm, and even though all their stories were different, a string of something similar ran through all of them and resonated within me. But was I actually trans? I found myself standing in a room full of my LGBT+ peers after a weekly GSA meeting, feeling completely alien. I didn’t know why I felt so different. I didn’t have a word for it. I began using the word, “queer” as a self-descriptor. It felt all-encompassing; an umbrella term for my sexual orientation and my gender identity. A term that held such a negative connotation for many LGBT+ people for so long, had become a word that felt the most cohesive to use to describe myself.


I don’t remember when or where I first heard the word, “non-binary.” A GSA meeting? Tumblr maybe? Merriam-Webster’s definition is, “relating to or being a person who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that is neither entirely male nor entirely female. Not feeling quite here nor there. Never girly enough, but y’all, I’ve also seen some boys do some disgusting stuff. Ew, no thank you. It’s the one label that feels the most comfortable and makes the most sense for me, so at 24, I donned it like my favorite hoodie during sweater weather.


Throughout my own personal journey over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to hear so many stories from others during my involvement with LubbockPRIDE. Seeing others get to be themselves and hearing stories every year during the annual Pride festival from people that just came out or are attending their first pride, will always be some of my favorite memories. As someone whose chosen profession recognizes the importance of stories, it wasn’t until I had a young person come up to me at a pride celebration during Summer ‘22, that I became consciously aware that I was, at that moment, someone’s real-life representation. All it took was something as seemingly small as wearing my nonbinary pride pin, and this college freshman told me they felt comfortable coming over and talking to me. Let me say it loud, REPRESENTATION MATTERS.


It’s been 20 years since I’ve been a self-conscious, awkward teenager, and in that time I have seen our community in Lubbock grow exponentially. I’ve seen steps made in the direction of equality at the national level, and have been infuriated at the leaps made backward. Now at the age of 35, after a lifetime of feeling other, I exist as the most confident, comfortable, and truest version of myself. I’ve never been someone that has felt like they were living their life LOUDLY OUT, however, now when I think about what Pride and Pride Month means to me, it is continuing to exist when our existence is trying to be eradicated and celebrating our stories when our voices are trying to be silenced. Existence is resistance.


Happy Pride, Lubbock

-Yad, (They/Them)

Wearing PRIDE


Last year I purchased a simple black rubber bracelet with the letter’s spelling PRIDE as red, orange, yellow, green, and blue. Once I put it on that day at the PRIDE Festival in the Depot District Street celebration, I have been wearing it ever since.  This bracelet was a small donation to the organization, Lubbock PRIDE, that hosted the event but has brought me so many more valuable connections and experiences than I ever imagined.  Wearing “PRIDE” all year round has many benefits. In one instance I received a reminder ticket to the Lesbian PROM this year while eating pancakes at Jimmy's Egg.  Woo hoo!


So, you might ask then why is this piece written by “anonymous” and not your real name?  If you have worn your PRIDE all year, why not show it now by giving your name?  The answer is very simple, being “online” is much more of a threat than meeting someone face-to-face.  Lubbock prides itself on being the friendliest city.  That, at times, is true.  But as soon as I see a post on our local television social media question related to the next Mayoral Candidate debate, asking the public what questions should be asked, I am met with the old trope of “Why do you need PRIDE?” “There are more important issues!” And the list goes on!


To understand this, you must remember that PRIDE began as a riot, circa 1969, although we cannot forget the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot in 1966 in San Francisco, which had a significant impact on the “gay” movement.  A riot that was long overdue.  It wouldn’t be until 1970 on the year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago that a march (protest parade) was held to demonstrate equal rights. Visibility matters.  Visibility mattered so much that even in 1981, Suzanne Manford Swan marched in support of her gay son. Being OUT and PROUD has become the standard practice of celebrating PRIDE. 


We must not forget that the spark that is remembered most of a movement (Stonewall) began with a box of tender in the form of prior organizing of splintered groups.  The events of Stonewall and Pride traditions that followed were adapted from the “Reminder Day Pickets” held annually (1965-1969) on July 4 at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Organizers of these events were organized by the Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations (E.R.C.H.O), formed in 1962. 


I would say that I wear my PRIDE purposefully, as a type of protest. Taking into account all that came before me and those yet to find their way.  “I want my gay rights now!” Oh, I mean, Happy PRIDE ya’ll.



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