Young LGBT voices: what does pride mean to you? - Emilio Vicente

Emilio Vicente is an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is passionate about social justice issues, especially the humane treatment of immigrants in this country and is a DREAMer.

By chance I attended my first Pride event two years ago, in Seattle of all places.

I’m from a small, fairly conservative town in North Carolina, where most people don’t talk about LGBT issues and even less, celebrate it so I had never been exposed to Pride events before.

I was in Seattle in the summer of 2011, doing an internship and had been shopping at Pike Market on a Sunday morning, totally oblivious about Pride Parade happening that day until I kept seeing more and more people with LGBT flags walking around. I eventually realized that the parade was going to happen in a few hours times and I decided to stick around to watch it.

Once it started, I loved that it literally displayed the diversity that the LGBT community is made up of, as there were people of all ages, races and genders. The people participating and watching were all united in celebrating one of the things that they had in common. It was great to see people freely and openly display who they are, without fear of judgment or harassment.

Apart from Pride Parade, it made me realize that this month-long celebration of who we are is important, because not only are we learning from the past (the good and the bad) but also striving to continue moving forward, which I think is the most important thing about Pride month.

If we don’t celebrate our history and struggles then who will? It sure won’t be those who constantly try to take away our rights.

But we must ensure that while we have our month-long celebration that we continually connect with as many people as possible throughout the year. I strongly believe that none of us is only a one-issue person. Personally, I don’t just care about LGBT issues. I care about immigration reform, worker’s rights, amongst other things.

As someone who has recently embraced his sexual orientation, I know that this experience made me realize that I can and must be part of this process and community.