June 29, 2020
By Tanner Alexander, Corporate Engagement Associate at United Way of Central Indiana
As we wrap up June and step into a new month in a totally abnormal year, I find myself reflecting on Pride and what it means to me. My first Pride wasn’t a grand experience worth writing about. My coming out story wouldn’t be compelling enough to turn into a movie and I (fortunately) never had to deal with anyone I cared about disowning me because of my sexuality. I’m lucky and one of the few members of the LGBTQ+ population who can (and will) say it. Pride is importantly a time to reflect on our history, including the Stonewall riots and countless activists who fought for my right to love who I choose to – but today I write to share my thoughts and examine the things that bring me pride now, rather than in the past.
I have pride in the work community-based organizations like IYG and Trinity Haven are doing for LGBTQ+ youths in Central Indiana. Minors who identify as queer are very vulnerable. Without the love and support of their families, these young adults will likely feel isolated and unsure. Without a strong network of positive, queer representation they may repress feelings or worse, find solace in substance abuse or other risky behaviors. I’m lucky enough to have a family that accepted and loved me through my time of self-discovery, but if I would’ve had access to resources like these, I may have felt comfortable embracing my sexuality earlier in life.
I have pride in the supportive folx at the Damien Center, BU Wellness and GenderNexus who work tirelessly to make sure the LGBTQ+ community is safe, healthy, and well-educated. Navigating life as a queer person has unique challenges and access to safe, non-discriminatory healthcare can be one of them. Plus, unlike most resources in Central Indiana, these organizations offer resources to educate LGBTQ+ individuals on safe, smart sex. These organizations help make our community more comfortable and actively embrace, celebrate and prove how #BlackLivesMatter and #BlackTransLivesMatter.
Finally, I have pride in the work I’m doing at United Way and Indy Pride. United Way fights for every person in Central Indiana, but especially those underserved and too often forgotten populations. It’s critical for me to know that my black, queer, wheelchair bound friend has access to, and can achieve, the same opportunities that I do. The partnerships United Way has in the community make that possible. Through Indy Pride I’m able to educate allies and future allies on the needs of the LGBTQ+ population and provide those resources to my community. We connect organizations to their employees through volunteerism and promote love and kindness along the way.
You see, Pride is more than just a fun party with bright colors, loud music and short shorts. Pride is about education, acceptance, growth, advocacy, equality and obviously love. Fortunately, it just so happens that we’re able to live all these values and still put on one heck of a show! Happy Pride and remember to take care each other, and yourselves!