What "Gay Pride" means to me

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- When we think of pride, what are we talking about? As children we are taught that if we always do the right thing, we will be praised for our actions. Eventually, this emotion turns into pride. Pride is something that we as a society feel about our inner self.

I remember in my youth, I was always praised to the highest standards for anything that I accomplished or I attempted to do, but no matter what I succeeded in I always felt as something was missing, and I felt different. I wasn't a whole person because I was being dishonest within myself and those around me.

At the age of 21, I realized I was gay. I didn't want to be gay, but I was and there wasn't anything I could do to change it. I was a gay man in the military and I was concerned about the reaction of my fellow Airmen and the whole persona that society has when it comes to military life.

Eventually, I came to a realization that my sexual orientation does not define me as a person. Loyalty, honesty and integrity do and I quickly informed my family of my sudden epiphany dealing with my life, and, like many times before, their reaction was unconditional love and support.

So today when I think about what gay pride means to me; it is an inner feeling, felt so deeply internally, that I can only describe it as, "accepting of one's self." It is a feeling that cannot be bought or earned; it is a feeling of happiness for who you are. It is a realization that being gay does not make you different, or an outcast of society. It is a feeling, however, that let's others know that no matter the person, you are completely satisfied with the way your life is turning.

I am very proud of whom I am and proud of being able to be honest with others. And more than anything I am proud to be a part of an organization that has an immense impact on other's lives. LGBT Pride fights for rights and equality for the gay and lesbian communities. They are our voice behind truth and take a stance on issues pertaining to our rights. And we do have rights; every man and woman in the gay community should have the same rights as anyone else.

That's what gay pride means to me, its standing up for what we believe in, its being the best person you can be and it's being proud of who you are and living up to the best of your abilities.