It is amazing to see how pride month has become mainstream in recent years. Companies around the world are all showing their support to the LGBTQ+ community. Nowadays people are more educated on who we are and how to accept and respect us. And I feel that in general, coming out has become easier compared to 50+ years ago when pride month was non-existent. Did you know why pride month takes place in June? It's to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonewall_riots). I was thrilled to be in NYC with all my friends to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots which coincided with the World Pride in 2019! Can I go back please? I didn't experience gay life until I moved to L.A. from Hong Kong to go to college in early 90's. In the beginning I was so scared to be out and been seen especially in WeHo (West Hollywood). I just didn't want people to know the other side of me. It took me a few years to get comfortable with my sexuality. Pride was just an opportunity to party, get drunk and get trashed. I didn't pay too much attention about gay rights or equal rights until 2008 where Californians were voting for Prop 8, a ban on same-sex marriage. Growing up, I had never thought about discrimination against being gay/lesbian/transexual.
I was never out to my parents. My friends who knew them always said they knew all along and just would rather not have known especially when I had never brought home a girlfriend but a few really close male friends! Kind of a don't ask don't tell policy?
I lost my chance to have that honest conversation with my dad 9 years ago. I regret it. And last year, when my mom was in a coma due to a complication of a brain hemorrhage, I held her hand and asked her to accept me before she passed. That one-way conversation was the least I could do and I told myself I had to. With that being said, I can't say I know the struggle of coming out as I have never experienced rejection from my parents. However, I do acknowledge that coming out is a big deal; regardless of how common you hear about these stories today. Since same-sex marriage was legalized in all states in 2015, companies have expanded their marketing campaigns to include or target the LGBTQ+ members.
It's nice to see we are treated "equally". At the same time, we have to ask ourselves if we know these companies are really our allies or they care more about their bottom line. LGBTQ+ community has come a long way to have a whole month dedicated to us! And pride to most of us has become a celebration. Last year was a bad year globally, pride celebrations were all canceled due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.
Although we are still not fully back to normal this year, I just can't wait to go out and celebrate pride again. Most importantly, we cannot cancel pride; we shall remember and thank those rioters back at Stonewall Inn who pathed the road for us! Happy Pride to you all!
Elliot Co-founder, allez outdoor