A person dancing at pride with arms raised confidently. A crowd of people is also dancing and cheering behind them. A rainbow flows through the sky in the background.

My Pride Remembrance & Reflection, Part 1

With everything that has been going on in the world lately, one thing that I did not realize was that we are approaching Pride month.

Since I work in the field of public health for an LGBT organization, I usually hear plans and ideas around what we will be doing for Pride and the parade as an organization.

How I participated in Pride in the past

Typically, we would work inside of Pride and set up an outreach table where we can talk to the community about the programs and services we offer. We would always have fun games related to HIV prevention and transmission as well as prizes and giveaways.

Due to COVID-19 and the county's regulations on mass gatherings, there will not be a Los Angeles Pride in California this year. One thing I am disappointed about is not being able to be a part of the parade which I did every year since I came out. I would always walk the parade with my coworkers, family, and friends and just reflect on how much the LGBTQIA community has shaped my journey.

It was always an amazing experience being able to see such a diverse group of people all there to show their pride or to support the people they love.

How the LGBTQIA community has helped me

Since I cannot walk the parade and reflect I thought it would be a good outlet to reflect it through my writing. The LGBTQIA community has helped me over the years to really be comfortable with who I am, both inside and out.

I did not talk to many people

The reason I say this is because I started going to a social and support group shortly after coming out to my mother.

My mother did not have any issue with me being gay. But, I still did not feel like I had support from the community that I am now a part of because I did not talk to many people.

What the support group was like

This group was at a local LGBT center that was close to where I was living at the time. The facilitators did an amazing job at picking topics that would make everyone in the group be able to relate to one another as well as giving the opportunity to build healthy friendships. We also were given education workshops on things like HIV, STIs, and PrEP/PEP.

Finally a sense of community

For about two years, I went to this group and would hang out with the people I met, both inside and outside of the group. We would have group every Wednesday from 7:00 – 8:30 pm and would still hang out after the group.

I had never really felt this before

We would all head to a local restaurant and reflect more on what the group topic was or just catch up with one another. After meeting people in group, I started to build a sense of community for once that I had never really felt. It was totally different than before, especially compared to high school when I use to get picked on.

The guys that I met from this small group were actually the people that took me to Vegas for my 21st birthday and the first people I disclosed my status to.

Stayed tuned for the second article on how the LGBTQ community helped Stephen find support and a sense of belonging.

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