Pride festivals have shaped how my family interacts with the LGBTQ+ community. When I first came out, I was told “you have too many gay friends and nobody is going to accept you”. So I stayed quiet about it until I no longer could. My mom wasn’t approving and had a very hard time accepting. I’m the only one in my family that belongs to the LGBTQ+ community, so it was hard coming to the realization that her plans for me to marry a man, had changed. That was 2015.
Flash forward to 2018, my mom came to her first pride festival. We also visited the Orlando Pulse memorial that year and she finally understood why it hurt me so bad that she didn’t accept me. We sat and cried together at the tragedy that occurred at that site and she realized that I was still the same person I had always been.
At first, I was in denial (aren’t most of us?) when I started having feelings towards women. I thought nobody was going to accept me. It took me a year to finally tell anyone and when I did, it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I started to tell more people, and finally two years later is when I came out to my immediate family. It took another year after that for my extended family to find out (I was outed on both my mom and dads side). By that point, I was strong enough to say, this is MY happiness and no one else’s. This is who I am.
As of 2019, my mom went with me to pick an engagement ring out and helped plan a proposal to my now fiancée. She absolutely loves my fiancée and my family is in full support of how I live my life.
For everyone struggling, It gets better. There will always be people who don’t accept you, but find the ones with genuinely good energy who do accept you, there are plenty out there. We love you.