It's that time of year again: June is Pride Month, where LGBTQ people from all over the world congregate in major cities and small towns alike to celebrate a month dedicated to acceptance, love, and diversity. It means parades, parties, forums, and discussions about what it means to be LGBTQ. It's a month full of celebrations, reflection, and most importantly, a space and time for otherwise marginalized people all over the country and international community to claim and reclaim that which has been denied to them, whether it's love, safety, or something else.
In my personal experience, Pride Month is also an emotional time. As a queer Pakistani woman with mostly straight, white friends and companions in my life, I rarely find a community of people with whom I can relate on a deep or personal level when it comes to my identity. But Pride is different. Thanks to the diverse range of events and programs, and an even more diverse range of people who come out to be a part of the festivities, I feel much more connected to others and feel as though I can finally take part in communities that make me feel fully like myself.
If you, like myself, experience lots of feels during the month of June and all those Pride festivities, you'll understand these following emotional stages — all of which include glitter, happiness, and lots of love.
This stage usually takes place right before June starts and continues into the first few days before most Pride-related activities kick up. The anticipation builds and, if you're as lucky as I am, you watch your city prepare for the festivities with rainbow flags, block parties, and banners for the parade.
As dates and details of events (not to mention party invites and community gatherings) start pouring out onto your Facebook and Twitter feeds, the excitement starts to set in. You start planning with friends, reaching out to people to whom you may not have spoken in a while, and gathering all the rainbow-colored accessories you can get your hands on. This stage happens within the first week of June and can last until the big parade or event your city or town has.
The parties have started; the glitter cannons have started to go off; and everyone is ready to party and have a good time. There is nothing but love in the air and sheer joy felt by everyone around you for being there, being with supportive people, and being recognized for who they are.
Of course, one of the most integral stages of Pride Month is, well, pride. There are few things as powerful as being among a group of people who share such a deep experience with you, let alone having the group be full of some of the most beautiful, talented, and fearless individuals the world has ever seen.
5. A Happy Sadness and a Sad Happiness
This stage is particularly real for me. Every year during the parade when hundreds, even thousands of people are marching in solidarity with the LGBTQ community, I feel myself tearing up with joy but also tearing up for all the people (including myself) who have had this part of their identity impact their life in a negative way. I root for all the queer women during the dyke march with fervor, but I can't help but feel sad that the queer women in my home country can't do the same. I clap for all the parents and allies that come out with PFLAG, but can't help but feel emotional because I know my parents don't approve of my sexuality. There is certainly an underlying sadness to the tears, but there are overtones of happiness that always takeover.
6. Feeling Wonderfuly Overwhelmed
There is a point after the initial excitement of the parade and festivities and the subsequent emotional aspect of it all where you start to feel overwhelmed, but in a good way! Like, "Wow, there are so many hot women here, WHERE DO I EVEN LOOK?"
7. Ready for the Parties and Afterparties
Though the parade is incredible, everyone gets really excited for all the events that take place afterward: Bar takeovers, block parties, concerts, ladies' nights, boys' nights, drag shows, beach events filled with rainbows, more glitter, and getting a little bit drunk. After all, we all stand together and solidarity is important... but I'm also trying to scout out a cute girl to dance with one-on-one.
When the month is over and the sounds of happiness are resonating in your ears from the crazy nights and eventful days, you can't help but feel a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment after a fantastic month filled with so much love and support. Pride Month may be over, but the people you meet, the stories you hear, and the lessons you learn will stay. You get to wear the grin of contentedness until next year when everything will be even better.
Images: Giphy (8)