Readers Say

10 readers share what Pride means to them

"The bravery to take up space."

Bostonians continued to celebrate Pride Month, even without the annual parade. Globe Staff/John Tlumacki

It’s been a joyful Pride Month, a time to celebrate and honor the LGBTQ community in Boston. While this year has been markedly different — there was no annual parade, since Boston Pride dissolved last year — there have been numerous ways for people to support LGBTQ rights, from the City’s hosting of the “A Very Proud City” series to the Trans Resistance March.

We asked readers about what Pride means to them, and you responded with reflections and stories. Themes included inclusion, treating people with compassion, and the ability to live and love openly and with dignity. We collected thoughts from 10 readers and community members and compiled them below. Scroll down to see what people had to say about Pride.

Readers reflect on what Pride means to them

“‘Pride’ means I am no longer ashamed of who I am. ‘Pride’ means I hold my head high, always, in spite of what I was taught by the church, by my family, by society. ‘Pride’ means that I will judge others by their actions and by their words, but never by the color of their skin, the color of their eyes, or something as silly as the gender of the person they fall in love with. ‘Pride’ also means I expect the same from you.”

-Stephen K., Maryland

“The meaning of Pride for me continues to evolve, and sadly, I have moved back to a feeling of, ‘we are here, we are humans like you, we can’t change. We can only be true to ourselves.’ Growing up in with two loving heterosexual parents, with no queer people to look up to, I know that by saying ‘gay’ we can’t change people. But, when people know they are not alone, especially kids, it literally saves lives. So, for me, this year, Pride means fighting for all of us with love and compassion. Pride means being a role model for youth and pushing—again—for acceptance and change.

-EJ J., Massachusetts

“This year, Pride Month is more special than usual. This year, I’m a queer, non-binary, Latine running for State Representative in the 15th Suffolk. I’m running as my whole self; fully out and proud. Not even a generation ago, this would be the end of a political career. I would be advised to hide this part of myself. Instead, it’s a key piece of who I am and deeply impacts my lived experience. This is what Pride means to me. The bravery to take up space. The courage to live out loud and to honor to the people before who took the steps to make all this possible. I’m proud of our history and proud of our future.”

-Sam Montaño, community organizer

“For me, this Pride Month means rest and reorienting myself to a slower, less busy way of life. Earlier this month, I had COVID, which forced me to slow down — I had to resist the tendency to push through and just continue working at the same pace, a pace I’m seeing (again) as unsustainable. Too often I believed I couldn’t rest and that I didn’t deserve it. I had internalized the idea that my entire self-worth was determined by labor. And I carried the belief, however rationally I knew it was wrong, that if I wanted to be taken seriously, if I wanted to prove I was a ‘worthy’ queer person and ‘make up’ for not being straight, I had to keep taking on every work opportunity. I am continuing to unlearn these expectations and pressures that come from living in a world of capitalism and coercive heterosexuality. I feel very fortunate that I can make more room for rest at this moment; this is something I want for all my LGBTQ community. I especially want this for my fellow LGBTQ immigrants and children of immigrants.”

-Chen Chen, Jacob Ziskind Poet-in-Residence at Brandeis University

“While I may be heterosexual, I am proud to support my friends and them embracing their identity. In many parts of the country today, people are ostracized for their sexuality and gender. This is a time for celebration as well as persistence. …”

-Kate, East Boston

“Pride [to me means showing] your true colors.  It is the time to show your true self with absolutely nothing to hide. I think everyday should be Pride Day.  I am a 41 year old male with mild cerebral palsy who grew up wearing women’s clothing, like putting on sexy pantyhose and dresses since [I was] a young teenager. However, I am hoping [to] become a non-binary person by undergoing a male-to-female bottom surgery, SRS [sex reassignment surgery].”

-Shanmukha Rao

“Pride began as an uprising against anti-LGBTQ discrimination and police brutality, and over the decades has developed into a community celebration of our successes and accomplishments.  

For me, Pride has always been about both. It is an opportunity for our communities and allies to come together to celebrate our strength, resilience, and advancement, while also focusing attention on the work that still needs to be done. Pride calls on all of us to step up and renew our commitment to centering the intersecting needs and priorities of all who continue to face harassment, discrimination, and violence due to racism, transphobia, and other forms of social and institutional oppression.

At BAGLY, this means that we prioritize the needs of youth of color and trans/non-binary youth, as well as all youth who experience barriers to accessing basic needs such as nutritious food, clothing, and housing. 

To paraphrase the famous quote attributed to a number of activists over the years:  “None of us is free, until all of us are free.”

-Grace Sterling Stowell, executive director of BAGLY

“The chance to be free to get rid of the yoke of despair and the feeling of not being true to yourself and your family. To be able to have your friends and family meet your partner and love without fear and ridicule. Happy to know more people are accepting of who you are. Having your children join with you in your celebration of anniversary and happy times. My last thought [is], just being you and happy.”

-Lou M., Florida

“When we are silent about who we are, it’s easy to be erased from history! For me, Pride means showing up as my authentic self and being a model for what living in your truth can look like. It is an act of courage to be out in the workplace, to your community, and to your family and friends. My hope is that my story gives the next generation the permission to be bold and do even more! Boston’s spirit of resilience shows up in how the community has created the opportunity to step up, build anew, and rise together when Boston Pride dissolved. In a matter of a month, I’ve been to over 30 events full of community that celebrated our multiracial, multigenerational, multicultural, and multilingual queer community. Pride is more than a month of celebration and reflection; it’s being celebrated 365! I love how the community has wrapped their arms around each other and always refuses to sit on the sidelines. Everyone wants to get involved in some way. We must continue to show up for those that can’t and speak up for the voiceless and love without limits. As we work to make Boston a city for everyone, the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ+ Advancement is committed to empowering Boston’s queer community and ensuring that our queer residents across all of our neighborhoods are connected to city services and resources.”

-Quincey J. Roberts Sr., executive director of the Mayor’s Office for LGBTQ+ Advancement

“Pride means being able to hold my husband’s hand it public. Pride means safety where persecution happens. Pride is a public stand that we won’t be quiet, we won’t go back to our corners. We will be heard. Pride is a protest.”

-Brandon B., New York