Pride. Pride. Pride.
By Doris Kelechi of Nigeria
I have heard so much about LGBTQ Pride but never knew what it really was or how I felt about it. It’s forbidden where I come from. As part of the Mandela Washington fellowship, my group was scheduled to visit San Diego LGBT Pride, and I welcomed the invitation with mixed feelings- should I attend or not?
I made the decision to attend. My group got the opportunity to be addressed by Fernando Lopez, Pride’s Director of Operations. He was an amazing speaker. He talked about the different facets of humanity and how the organization’s work has positively impacted their society in many ways. At that moment I knew I would be attending the Pride Parade and Festival.
Fast forward to the parade day—my fellow cohorts and I were very excited for our first Pride Parade. We wondered: Are they different? What do they look like? Do they feel inadequate, inferior or superior? Are they hostile?
My mind was in turmoil during the trip to the venue. Alighting from the car, I saw happy people everywhere who believed in their cause- people who were willing to stand up for love. The Pride Parade was parade like no other—vast and rich colors everywhere, festive music, smiling faces, and very warm greetings. You could feel the love in the atmosphere.
It was my first experience witnessing an event where everyone simply celebrated each other’s uniqueness and co-existence. Seeing these happy, colorful people dancing and rejoicing was mind blowing, and I knew that love is all that matters. Coming from a religious background that is rooted in love and acceptance, I realized that I have to build a bridge of respect, compassion, and even solidarity. I have no right to judge or to condemn. We are all humans first and foremost, each of us deserving of dignity. People should not be defined by their sexual tendencies. There is no wrong or right way to live.
The Pride Parade happens once a year, but we can choose to love and respect each other every day. Love is the universal language, so let us all spread the love whenever we can.
Post has been edited for clarity.