I went to my second pride on June 22nd of this year, last year I was very safe with my outfit, wearing jean shorts and a T-Shirt. This year however, I chose to be less safe & wear a bralette and jean shorts and I wouldn't consider myself under dressed for the occasion. The first 4 hours were wonderful, all 7 of us caught the beads thrown from the parade, and some of us had even gotten compliments on our outfits. The vibe of the parade was wonderful, nobody cared about what you wore and if accidentally bumped into someone and said sorry, I was always met with a "it's fine" and a very bright smile. Everyone was so full of joy, and you could approach almost everyone at the parade if you wanted to, the place was just over-run with people a part of the LGBT+ community & an allies.
Around the 5 hour mark, a man in his early twenties comes up to me, puts both of his hands in front of him, and asks for a double-high five. Being in a spirited mood, I gladly gave him a double-high five. Then, he asks "Do you want a hug too?" with his arms stretched out, "sure," I answered. Even though he was a stranger, the positivity within the parade was enough for me to be comfortable with the situation. I was surrounded by the group I came with, 5 girls and 1 boy, the stranger was alone and there was always a cop patrolling nearby, I knew I would be safe. I thought this would be a funny and love-filled memory I could tell someone about one day.
About 30 minutes after the stranger came by, I looked down the sidewalk where my group was sitting. I have seen people like this on the news and in movies, but I didn't actually think they were real. This group of about 5 men, all wearing a button up and jeans, 3 of them holding bibles in one hand and a bible quote poster in the other, one of them was holding a speaker attached by a wire to a microphone the other guy was speaking into. At first I thought it was a figment of my imagination, but while passing us, I heard the hateful words they were spewing. A girl that was about 18 years old was following close behind the protesters, telling everyone positive messages to drown out the hate the homophobes were yelling. When they passed by me and my friends, they handed 2 of the girls a pamphlet entitled: "The Way of Salvation." What I considered weird is that the protesters at the parade expected everyone there to be LGBT+, not even realizing allies exist as well. They looked at my friends with sadness in their eyes, while talking about how the LGBT+ will never be reborn after they die, and that we'll all burn in hell.
Once they passed us, my sister came back from going to the restroom, and we showed her the pamphlet we were given and told her what they said. At this point the protesters stopped at the corner street of the parade about 100 feet away, still using the speaker. We were all very saddened by the sudden negativity. To make it worse, a few minutes later, another group of similar protesters passed us by. Hearing what they said finally pushed me over the edge, they just kept saying, "If you are not saved, Jesus won't let you be reborn," over and over, but in different ways. I had to raise my voice a bit for the protesters and people around me to hear what I was trying to say, all I said was "Jesus loves everybody," about 4 times in front of them. While doing that I received a few claps from the people around me, agreeing.
After the last time I said it, a protester wearing a blue and white polka-dotted polo and blue jeans, turns to me, about to open his bible he was holding, and says "actually-" I cut him off, and say, "no."
My sister stood up for herself as well, while passing by what they were using as their "main corner," she goes up to one of them, and very politely says, "God loves everyone, sir" he replies to her with his deep southern accent, "Yes he does, but if yall arent saved you can't be reborn." My sister responds with, "We don't need saving, go home," and walks off.
After the protesters were creating too much of a crowd of people yelling at them, the police told them they had to keep moving. Legally, protests like this are allowed to happen because of the 1st amendment of the US constitution, unless it becomes violent or disturbs the peace, they told them to move because they were disturbing the peaceful event.
After they left the area, I glanced at one sentence of the pamphlet we were given, "Did God break your heart?" And it made me think, not about my right to love anyone, but what these men are doing versus what they think they are doing. In their mind, they believe that they are helping us, and we really do need saving, but what they don't realize is what they are actually doing:
They are making the LGBT+ community, and allies stray away from religion, and some people even attempt suicide. God didn't break our heart, people with hatred in their heart breaks us.
This experience enlightened me, I now know people like that actually exist, and made me greatful that I was not raised to be homophobic. After reading that sentence, I ripped up the pamphlet, put the small pieces of paper in my pocket and threw it away when I got home.
I'm not against religion myself, but I do not appreciate the hate-filled places of worship, I would hate to hear about "not going to paradise," everytime I step into a religious building. I don't like hearing negativity.
Let it be known, whether you're an ally or a part of the LGBT+ community, a lot of religions are becoming more accepting of everyone. If God is real, and he did make every living thing on Earth, he'd love all his creations equally. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Trust me, everyone has our own stories, our own sexualities, genders, even clothing styles. Everyone is so different, but how boring would it be if everyone was the same? It would be the worst. Something I think about most nights when I can’t sleep, I think of a world that everyone is completely the same. Think about it, if everyone was the same race, the same religion, the same height, the same gender, the same humor, the same personality and they all have same political views, almost everything wrong with the world wouldn’t exist, homophobia, racism, sexism. Hate groups wouldn’t exist because, everyone is exactly the same, they would be protesting against themselves.
I do have some problems of my own of course, I haven’t come out yet, not if that can be considered an issue, but, it could become one. I wouldn’t consider my parents homophobic, they might say somethings negative about the community now and then, and they think anyone that is not gay, trans or lesbian needs to choose a gender to be attracted to or gender to transition to. They think this way because they don’t understand what bisexual or gender fluid people feel everytime they cannot be who they truly are, even if I try to explain it to them, they won’t listen.
Instead of venting to my family (because of the semi-homophobia and the closet issue), I tend to vent to my "friend family". My friend family are the people I surround myself with that will listen to you, and support you, no matter your mental state or sexuality and/or gender. Most of them are a part of the LGBT community as well, so they know how I feel, and they know me well enough to know how to help me. If you surround yourself with supportive people, who listen to you, love you, and support you, you will have your own little friend family.
Everyday I think about my friend family and wonder how I got so lucky, some days I look at other people, and I can see how miserable they are with their lunch table. I can talk to my friends about everything, they will listen, and if they don’t agree with my point of view, they will lay it down to me straight (or gay). They always let me vent, and they know when I need someone to listen to me.
I know sometimes it is very difficult for people to make friends (it’s not extraordinarily difficult for me, I’m just kinda socially awkward), if you need to find a support system, figure out if your school has a GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance). If they don’t, figure out a way you could have weekly meetings, inside or outside of school.
Getting yourself a support system, even confiding into people through a screen, is crucial for a healthy mentality. When you need a support system, and your family may not be a reliable one, you can confide in your friends or maybe even writing about your feelings could help you and your thought process.
As you may know, 68% of American people are plus size, and more and more clothing companies are making plus size clothing and hiring plus size models.
This is a gigantic leap for body positivity, but it still doesn't help everyone's body confidence. Lots of plus-size people are ridiculed by what we may call, the 'single digit shoppers.' Clothing companies are now opening their eyes to the plus size community, and people in the community are finally wearing what is trendy, not what is considered 'appropriate' for your body type and/or size. Now that most of those days are behind us, it is time to allow ourselves to wear what we like. Booty shorts? Yes hun you will look like MAGIC. Crop top? DUH, show off that hot bod!
I used to hate my body. I used to hate the way I look in pants, crop tops, skirts, shorts, dresses. One day I just realized that I needed to stop looking at myself that way. What is wrong with wearing what you love? NOTHING. I would always avoid looking at myself in a mirror, I'd just stare at my hair, never glancing at my face.
I would recommend that you do your research on plus size models. To find confidence, you need to be surrounded by confident people. You cannot be surrounded by people who make you feel disgusting. Look up @jazzmynejay @tessholiday @ashleygraham (on Instagram), stare at their photos if you need to, find yourself some confidence and let it grow. I started to do this a few months ago, and this year I mustered up enough confidence to go to Pride in a crop top and shorts.
Wear what you want to wear and let yourself be free to the world. You are beautiful, so surround yourself with confidence and love- be who you want to be.
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