By Alex M. Eduque
I write this piece at the end of LGBT Pride Month as a tribute to all my loved ones who are LGBT or a part of that sector of society who give the rainbow a new meaning. These are the people who give a little bit more sparkle to my everyday life, and who fill my heart with so much color. LGBT individuals have always been a part of my life – some, more key and influential than others, but all undeniably important. Having said that though, it was not until my college years in New York that I felt I was exposed to the true diversity and liberty of the LGBT community. Those years spent in a most cosmopolitan city and more free environment awakened me to the depth that their distinctive experiences bring about in further enriching our compassion and understanding of one another as unique individuals.
I write this as a means to celebrate the LGBT community. The resilient and courageous human beings who in the 21st century are still fighting in a relentless battle to find an equal place in a world that is much more open-minded (or at least we would like to think so) but still needs to be so much more accepting than it oftentimes really is. In the last 26 years, but most especially in the latter part of the last decade, I have learned a heap from my LGBT friends and family – so much more than I could ever put down into words. But in my attempt to do so, I hope you indulge me, even just this once, to share with you some learnings I have gathered through some of my life’s most colorful, dazzling, and beautiful friendships.
They have taught me first and foremost to know and celebrate your own truth. No matter how daunting it may be, their distinct acts of bravery have shown me first hand that people will respect you more for showing off your true colors, rather than hiding inside a (glass) closet. Most importantly, you will thank yourself in the end. As one of my best friends has repeatedly told me, “One does not choose to be LGBT, but it is something you know from the very beginning.” It is not the type of confusion or decision making process that eventually leads to self-actualization I would wish on anyone. But it needs to be done. Through their examples, I have learned that you cannot live a lie forever and truly be happy. You only have one life to live, and accepting your truth is the start of bravery and the ultimate ticket to liberty. Most of all, nothing means more than a strong support system. And in turn, I have been blessed with an indescribable sense of fierce loyalty from these LGBT friends I speak highly of.
Compassion is key. And it is something I have picked up from every single one of my LGBT friends. Never assume that you know exactly what someone else is going through, or has gone through. Each experience is unique and every situation different. Everyone has a story to tell, and every story has a struggle somewhere in its plot. It is of extreme importance therefore not to judge too quickly – there is much more to learn than what we already know. Some of the brightest and kindest people with the most brilliant minds I’m fortunate to know are proud rainbow warriors.
Ultimately, that love still wins! At the end of the day, LGBT or not, the underlying message of pride month speaks of love – as a language unspoken, but clearly shown. It is a reminder to us all that love is really and truly a beautiful thing, no matter what form it takes. At the heart of love, is respect, and thus, we must always remember that the true show of love is to accept and live with differences. It is about being open to unfamiliar perspectives and regarding these views with equal importance. They, to me, are living reminders that one should never be discriminated against because of who, or what they choose to love.
Every day is a new page in our story – a new opportunity to become a better version of our best selves we continuously work towards. Let us write it with and about love. With those who matter most. Let us surround ourselves with positive energy and open minds. Because love will transcend us all, and outlive even our legacies. Never forget that love will always win!
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