(This post originally appeared HERE on the GLAAD Blog.)
Pride isn't just a month to me, it's a state of mind. It's a constant in my life. Pride is about living every day out with integrity and honesty so I can make a difference for others. Pride is about being bold and moving from a cornfield in Indiana to New York City for the summer to work at GLAAD and do my part. Pride is about standing up for others when, for whatever reason, they're unable to stand up themselves. Pride is about accomplishing small goals for the LGBT community with the hope that one day, we'll all live in a much better place. Pride is about giving hope for a better future and strength to my friends who are afraid to come out. Pride is about walking down the street holding my girlfriend's hand at my "conservative" university to show the world our love is no different, and to show that very scared, queer freshman that they're not alone.
Pride is my second family, my progressive sorority, Gamma Rho Lambda, and how we embody tolerance, diversity, unity, and trust. Pride is about how my family members love me for who I am, and love my girlfriend as one of their own.
Pride is The Naming Project, the organization that showed me God's love and helped build me into the strong person I am today. Pride is about being out with my family, friends, at work, in school, at church, and never being ashamed of how God made me. Pride is about living my life as a positive example and as an agent of change for the LGBT community.
Every year since I came out, I've been to some sort of Pride celebration whether it be in Indianapolis, West Lafayette, Chicago, or New York City. I've been blessed with the most supportive family I could ever ask for. My mom has been my number one supporter and ally in all aspects of my life since the day I was born. Pride is usually a family affair. My mom is always excited to accompany me on my Pride month endeavors. My favorite Pride memory was last year. My family and I were in New Jersey for my cousin's high school graduation, and it just so happened to be the same time as New York City Pride. I had always wanted to travel to the city for Pride just because it seemed a lot more extravagant than Indianapolis—and Pride should be extremely extravagant! We woke up early, commuted into the city, and found front row seats for the march, right across from the Stonewall Inn. You could say that was the best day ever, but my friends would say I use that statement often. This year, I have the honor of experiencing New York City Pride Round 2! This summer, I'm blessed with the opportunity to have an internship with GLAAD. Working with Ross Murray as a News and Faith Initiatives Intern is a dream come true within itself. This Pride, you can find me marching with GLAAD in the parade instead of just watching from the sidelines like last year. What a difference a year makes.
As for back in the cornfield, at Purdue University, we have OUTfest in Lafayette, Indiana. This celebration surprisingly brings in a large crowd for Indiana. This event is held in August, after Pride month, but just in time for the students returning back to school from summer break. This will be amazing to come home to this year after just returning from New York. I celebrate Pride to remember the reasoning behind what I do: so generations to come don't have to be afraid to come out, so discrimination is abolished as much as possible, so churches preach love instead of hate, so I can marry the love of my life when the time comes, so my friends can stop living in fear, so the world is a better place.
The LGBT movement has come so far, especially lately. As I've grown up, I've also adopted the mentality that I will change the world. I've also learned that small changes result in large changes. The big picture of change is happening every day. I am one person, but if all of us work together, we can make a difference. When someone tells me "thank you" for simply sharing my story, I know those small moments will add up.
I celebrate Pride for the entire movement; every single one of us.