Credit: George Danby

The BDN Opinion section operates independently and does not set newsroom policies or contribute to reporting or editing articles elsewhere in the newspaper or on

Ralph Parks is an educator in Bangor.

If anyone tells you, “Pride is over for another year,” just tell them they are wrong. Pride is a celebration, a parade, a day, a week, a month in the calendar, but it is so much more. I’m going to say something here only speaking for myself. I’m not talking as a representative of any organization, group, or party, only me.

Pride is not about being G, or B, or L, or T, or Q, or any of the other alphabet soup. Pride is about survival and the accomplishment of being able to hold your head up. Pride is about not being beaten down when you were beaten up. Pride is about having the strength to find the love that is inherent in religious teaching when you have been browbeaten by the hypocrisy of people failing to find love in their hearts and wrapping it in the banner of religion. Pride is about finding that loving and supporting logical family when you have been turned away, thrown away, or asked to be silent by the biologicals.

Pride isn’t about a man wearing a dress, it is about a person putting on the armor of self-respect and being willing to step into the world as a self-proclaimed individual.

It takes a lot of living to come to the conclusion that it is all right to live a life others do not understand or accept. As with every decision in life, there is a price to pay. Some people make the decision, and it costs friends (they really were not friends), sometimes family, sometimes home or job. If you don’t think this is real, look at the statistics on LGBTQ teenagers, homelessness and suicide.

It’s not being gay I’m proud of. I’m proud of not being afraid.

Yes, it is easier now for many of us to function in the world. It is safer in some places, in some schools, in some colleges, but not all. Ask someone of the alphabet soup group what they’re afraid of or have been afraid of. If you find someone old enough, whose uncle was in the hospital back in the day before conversion therapy, and they tell you that the boy in the next bed was receiving shock treatments for sexual dysfunction, you’ll discover the fear of ever losing control over being able to make your own choices. If you are young, you don’t have the freedom to make your own choices. Parents have been forcing young people into conversion therapy.

There are the memories of the night a car drove by with the windows down, male voices screaming and then things started to be thrown. There is the realization that sometimes the police don’t want to deal with you because after being hit you are crying. Then there’s the horrible realization that if women’s bodily autonomy can be withdrawn, so can yours. Rights are only rights as long as you are still willing to fight for them. All minority rights are gay rights.

The day after the Veterans Day Parade the men and women who marched don’t put away those feelings. It’s not a uniform, or hat, or a badge that is put on, it is who they are. It is intrinsic. The day after any celebration of ethnic diversity, the participants continue to feel the awareness of who they are the next day and the next. The LGBTQ community may have packed away some costumes with thoughts of next year. Maybe next year I’ll see you there, and maybe I’ll be there again at the first-aid table, the old guy, saying, “Do you need some sunscreen?”

In the meantime, I’ll just continue to continue. Not because I’m gay, but because I’m not afraid anymore. You see, pride never ends.