Today marks the first day of Pride Month.  June is when most cities have their pride parades/festivals.  Utah's is this very weekend, if I am not mistaken.  Knoxville's is in a couple weeks, and I plan to participate as I did last year.

I am proud.  I have pride.  And I would like to talk about this pride.  The word "pride" (and its derivatives) is very taboo among some religious people, particularly among Mormons.  I even had one companion on my mission that said that he hated the song "Proud to be an American" because it had that word in it.  And I do think that arrogance can be a bad thing.  But, I also think that there are good kinds of pride and that it's not only okay, but important to be vocal about it.

I am proud to be gay.  Not because being gay has necessarily done anything for me that I wouldn't otherwise have (although, I believe it has) nor that I take pride in identifying with all of the other people in the LGBT community (which I do, but that's not the primary reason).  I am proud to be gay because it is who I am.  I am no longer ashamed of it.  I no longer try to hide behind a heterosexual façade.  I am gay and that's okay.  I don't need to hide it.  I don't need to pretend to be something else.  I am me, and being gay is part of me.  I take pride in who I am.

Here's an analogy.  I am, by nature, a mathematician.  Not that I was born a mathematician or that there is no other career option available to me, but that I am happiest being a mathematician.  I enjoy doing math.  I enjoy mathematical research.  (As an aside, I do not enjoy all of the awkward conversations that begin with something like "So, what do you research?" or "What kind of math do you do?", simply because it's only easy to explain to another mathematician.)  I am proud to be a mathematician.  I am proud to study math.  There is no shame in mathematical research.  There is no shame in being (or aspiring to be) a math professor.  It's just the way I am.  Yes, I could do some other job.  If I wanted more money, maybe I could be an engineer or something else.  But, I am happy being a mathematician.

Similarly, I could marry another woman.  I certainly did marry a woman in the past and was married for three years.  But, I see no shame in being with a man.  There is nothing wrong with it, and I am proud of it.  I am proud of the fact that Conrad thinks so highly of me.  He is happy with the way I treat him and he often compliments me on how kind and thoughtful I am.  I take pride in this.

Now, lest anyone misinterpret me, I should say that I am also proud to identify with the other people in the LGBT community.  When I made that disclaimer above, I only meant to say that the primary reason I'm proud to be gay was simply because I'm gay, not for any other reason.  But, over the last year and a half, I have come to know at hundreds of people in the gay community, and I must say that I am proud to know them.  I am proud to identify myself as part of the community that they belong to.  There are so many wonderful queer people that I have met and associated with.  There are some that I can't stand and there are many that I have offended and who will no longer speak to me.  But I must say that, overall, they're very nice people.  I am proud of my gay friends, and wouldn't hesitate showing them off to any one of my friends or family.

I am proud of my family.  I am proud of the fact that we still talk to each other, after all the many fights and disagreements we've had.  I'm proud that we stick together and protect and defend each other.

And so, I take this moment to encourage people to take pride.  Be proud of who you are and what you do with your life.  Be proud of your children, your siblings, your parents.  Be proud of the people you associate with.  Celebrate pride.