Being Your Authentic Self

            June 1 is the first day of pride month. According to the Library of Congress, “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month is celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. The Stonewall Uprising was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States”.  I wanted to focus this blog on what Pride Month means to me and why it matters.

            Last month I had the opportunity to go with some colleagues to a community event in an environment that caters to individuals who are gay.  I usually have pretty firm boundaries when it comes to socializing with individuals I work with but something inside me felt the need to branch out.   My colleagues are gay and I am straight. When we arrived I did not know what to expect.  However, I am accustomed to being able to adjust to any and all environments.  Within minutes I felt a sense of peace.  Very at peace. People were having fun.  I started having fun.  There were no cameras or anyone recording activities.  I literally saw people of all ages being their authentic self.  I felt envious.  That led to me feeling comfortable enough to join in. I had an amazingly fun experience and was reminded that being yourself, without a mask, is pretty cool.  I had not felt that way in a long time.  I am grateful that my colleagues included me.

            A couple of weeks later I went on a ladies only Smokey Mountain hiking trip with https://www.shetravels.com.  I went into it not knowing anyone and packed my mask with me.  I never go anywhere without it.  I’m proud to report that I did not need to even take my mask out of bag.  The attendees were warm, accepting and supportive.  I was once again in a safe space where I could just be me. 

            Since the events, I have put my mask back on. But it feels different now. I never realized how exhausting it is to hide behind who I really am.  This is what it can feel like for someone who has to hide behind who they truly are or want to be.  That someone could be scared to be themselves out of fear they won’t be tolerated or accepted.  To me, Pride Month plays a crucial role in promoting equality, acceptance, and love for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  It is also a personal reminder that I have to find spaces where I can be my authentic self with communities that love and authentically accept me.  Love is love and even if you don’t agree, it’s not your place or position to make anyone feel they can’t be who they authentically want to be.  Happy Pride Month!

Help is Healthy® is a practice dedicated to the management of individuals well-being.  I am dedicated to providing affordable evidence-based services to individual and couples. If there is something specific you need to help achieve overall wellness, I would love to connect with you.  You can schedule your complimentary 15-minute virtual consultation by visiting www.helpishealthy.com and request an appointment. 

Nikki Barfield, LCSW