The opposite of pride isn’t humility, it’s shame.
Friend, how do you feel about who you are?
It’s a question I thought a lot about this past weekend during the Pride celebrations in my home town of Toronto. This was the first in-person Pride Parade since COVID happened, and my first time attending a Pride Parade ever.
One thing that's important to know about me is I'm a serious introvert. On the scale of extrovert v. introvert, I'm like:
So going to the Pride Parade last weekend and the Pow Wow the weekend before, after two years of NO events, has been pretty draining. I admit, I had some trepidation when I first walked the Street Fair and was immersed in the crowds. Don't get me wrong, it was definitely fun. The mood was light and happy, everyone was smiling and laughing, and the food was awesome - so many food trucks with poutine, Korean bbq, burgers, tacos, and my fave - churros.
As I chowed down and took it all in, my covid-hibernation brain slowly adjusted to the sensory overload. People dressed (or undressed) in anything from your basic t-shirt and shorts, to bikinis, to underwear, to neon-coloured outfits, to drag, to fishnets, and more. As I walked through the pedestrian-only streets, I passed two - yes, TWO - completely naked men. I'm talking the full monty. One of the men was walking hand-in-hand with his partner (who was fully clothed) down the street, in all his naked glory. The other was dancing on the balcony of a building - it may have been a restaurant. I didn't look long enough to see 🙈. And no, I didn't take photos 😂.
The people in the parade were dressed similarly. No full montys, but varying degrees of outrageousness in colour, design, and coverage.
What didn't vary was that every person in the parade was proud to be there. Whether in the crowd or in the parade, everyone wore whatever they wore (or didn't wear) with pride. They waved to the crowd and lifted their arms to tell us to make more noise. We obliging screamed and cheered as people who were gay, straight, lesbian, trans, queer, 2-spirit, Indigenous, white, Black, racialized, women, men, non-binary, seniors, youth, and ageless, danced past us with heads held high and hips swinging to the music.
And there were many people who may or may not have been LGBTQ2S+ proudly supporting the people who were. There were firefighters, paramedics, long-term care workers, doctors, bikers, families, kids, grandparents, uncles and aunties, spouses, partners, and friends.
As group after group went by, I found myself standing straighter and holding my head higher. Their self-acceptance and joy were infectious.
At some point, it hit me that Pride Month and the Parade isn't about sex or sexual orientation. It isn't about what people were wearing or not wearing. It's about love.
Yes, love between two people, and the freedom to love who you choose. But also about loving yourself, and being loved for who you really are, not who others want you to be.
Go back for a moment to your high school English days. What's the opposite of the word "pride"? Humility? Meekness? Modesty?
On Sunday, the opposite of Pride was Shame. In the parade, I saw people who wanted to be fully seen and loved as they actually are. I saw people who refused to conform to what society, or their loved ones, demanded they be. I saw human beings who refused to believe that what made them "different" also made them unworthy.
This kind of spirit can't help but elevate the spirits around them. I'm a cis-gendered, straight woman. I've never been outcast for my sexual orientation or gender. I have felt ashamed and humiliated by other ways I've been outcast. On Sunday, as I cheered on people who received hatred for who they loved, I began to believe that I could be proud of myself, regardless of what others have told me.
Friend, what are you proud of about yourself? What are you ashamed of? What have you been told by your boss, your family, or your friends, you need to change?
What if instead of needing to hide that part of you, you were unconditionally accepted and loved for it?
What if that thing about you that people don't like, is actually something you could parade publicly and be cheered for it?
I have nothing but love and gratitude for the LGBTQ2S+ and SOGIE community. They are role models for love, tolerance, and inclusion. And the Pride Parade gave me something even my closest friends haven't. Pride in myself. 💙
Friend, no matter what you've been told, may you feel nothing but pride in who you are. Please love yourself like you would love your dearest friend or family member. You deserve it, because you are wonderful, just as you are!