STAY FIT 305 invited me to wax poetic on the topic of Pride month. Naturally, I jumped on the opportunity. I’m a 44-year-old marketing professional-turned-gym owner and trainer. As a Latino gay man, like many other beautiful humans within the LGBTQ+ community, I’ve experienced my share of bullying, struggles dealing with my own sexuality, battles with drugs, alcohol, depression, and suicide, and have had to come to terms with my HIV+ status. Today, I’m proud of who I am and carry a strong sense of purpose. On an average day, my personal well of experiences might hold plenty of nuggets to draw from. Perhaps I’d write in an effort to spark some degree of hope, motivation, or inspiration.
Today is not that average day. And, today, I truly haven’t a clue what to say.
Today’s context is vastly different than it was just a year ago. Sitting down to write, I’m feeling unqualified to speak on behalf of LGBTQ+ Pride month. Feeling qualified is hard when I feel #blacklivesmatter should remain front and center. In reality, today I feel that black lives matter, and that my opinions do not.
Instead, I can only offer my perspective; perhaps, at best, to provoke questions. It’s easy to condemn what’s happening to others. It’s harder—and more uncomfortable—to acknowledge our own victims and our roles in it all.
My heart and soul ache. So much pain. So much loss. Our community reels in injustice. Just this past week we’ve lost the lives of two black trans sisters. And with what feels like a cruel joke, at the same time new HHS office ruling threatens to strip us of healthcare protections. Thankfully, SCOTUS ruled on our side this week with protections against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in the workplace; silver linings in a far-from-over fight.
What does it even mean?
What’s the value in it?
If nothing else, we know the bitter taste of realizing we don’t matter.
We know too well the hurt of wanting to matter.
Painful is the realization others have already made up their minds about you…
before you’ve ever had a chance to speak for or express yourself.
We’re familiar with the reminder #itgetsbetter. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we’d admit it doesn’t always. In fact, today we see it clearly as day.
One human not mattering in the eyes of others is too many. One voice still going unheard, too. Individual value and purpose remain unseen in the hearts and minds of the people passing us daily. Far too often, simple existence is reserved for dark corners, separated and alone. Our world feels broken—humans desperate to be seen, recognized and acknowledged.
Relate to this struggle and remember what it takes to triumph. Every June, our LGBTQ+ community has an opportunity to reflect upon what’s been our own great struggle and triumph.
At the core of Pride is a reflection upon the Stonewall riots of late June 1969. It’s a celebration of brave beautiful humans that were fed up. Our community—forced to hide and remain unseen—had been pushed to a breaking point. In our fiery uprising, people started taking notice. Our journey toward true freedom—toward mattering—had begun. Like all broken things, we began our healing.
To matter is to fight for what we believe in.
To matter is to realize—first within ourselves—that we hold value; that we have meaningful and unique contributions to make in life. To matter is to fight with intention—it’s to shed light on a broken world hiding in darkness.
To matter is to acknowledge that when push comes to shove, sometimes, we need to push and shove. In our plight to be seen for the change we wish to see in the world, we must lead with the love we ourselves claim“wins.” Only this can bring community together and galvanize the energy we need to command the attention we deserve.
I end with this reckoning: through this healing process—when we feel we finally matter—we tend to take our foot off the gas. We tend to take life for granted more. We celebrate our own personal freedom, but forget others are still fighting for theirs.
It’s time to honor our fight by getting back in it; if not for ourselves, for those beautiful humans around us still fighting to simply matter. The answers to the challenges we face in social justice and equality lie not in our opinions. We win when we open our hearts and exercise compassion. We win when we reach out our hands with humility—and ask what it is we can do better, so that they matter.