This month is pride month – a month dedicated to celebrating the worldwide LGBTQ+ community; a month to celebrate acceptance, equality and love and to remember how destructive homophobia is. Pride encourages pride in who we are, irrespective of who we love.
What if you can’t and don’t feel proud of who you are – whether that be because you identify as LGBTQ+, or for any other reason? What if the society you live in doesn’t feel safe enough for you to be who you are openly and with confidence?
So often discrimination, marginalisation and threat create shame which gets in the way of us feeling free to truly be ourselves and to celebrate all that we are. When the world can’t see who we truly are we feel unseen, unheard, and invisible. We don’t have the opportunity to find the people we can deeply connect to, those people who truly see us, know us, and accept us just as we are, and we are not able to celebrate our identity with the joy and freedom our uniqueness deserves.
Humans are social animals, and we have an innate need to belong to a group – to ‘find our tribe’. Feeling like we fit in has such significant implications for our emotional wellbeing, resilience and happiness. We know that those who are marginalised have a higher risk of mental illness, including eating disorders.
Belonging to a group is also an important part of our identity. Studies have shown that being part of a group and having a sense of belonging enables us to recover more quickly from discrimination and be less impacted by prejudice. We feel supported, held and protected and this is the antidote to isolation and loneliness.
Listening to someone recently who shared their sadness because they do not feel seen and celebrated in society for many reasons was very hard to hear. They cannot openly share their authentic self with many people, and they rarely have the opportunity to feel celebrated for who they are. That seems tragic to me – that someone has to change or adapt themselves in order to feel safe, accepted and loved; that they rarely experience being loved as they truly are. It may not always be deliberate discrimination and judgement, but we all – and I include myself fully in this – see the world through the lenses of our experience. It is so easy to forget that each one of us has ‘wiring’ and experiences through which our view of the world is formed and our individuality can get missed if we do not remain curious.
I wonder how many of us do not feel able to be fully ourselves. And what needs to happen so that we can learn to love and accept each other just as we are?
Of course, the journey starts within, with noticing our inner dialogue. Even if nobody else sees us, we can start to see and hear ourselves with deeper love and celebration. When love is anchored within us, nobody can remove it even if they remove their love towards us. That is not always an easy task, when we have a habitually unkind inner voice which has perhaps been learnt from a habitually cruel world, but I speak from my heart when I say it is so worth doing.
As Buddha said ~
“You, yourself, as much as anyone in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
The human spirit is, indeed, resilient, but let’s try to create a collective, united resilience. As we walk through pride month together, let’s see it as an opportunity to be curious and to learn. Let us work towards a world where we can write our story without fear of others reading and judging and where we can read and learn from hearing others’ stories with curiosity and excitement.
Let’s take the opportunity to reach out to those around us and really open our hearts and minds to what we don’t know, what we haven’t yet experienced and look out for each other with love.
With my love and curiosity. Sarah x