As Pride Month continues to be celebrated and honored around the world, SDDC Program Intern, Ian Mariano Von Dyl, shares his personal connection to Pride and what it symbolizes. Content warning, this article mentions mental health and suicide.
Interested in supporting the San Diego Diplomacy Council, and being an ally for LGBTQ+ communities? Join us in the annual San Diego Pride Parade on July 15! Register here.
The taunting was always in the back of my head. From the first time a homophobic joke was kicked my way to my very last kick of the soccer ball while on the team, I never would have imagined that I would now be in a position to advocate for 2SLGBTQIA+ community.
That was three years ago. Three years ago I stepped away from a soccer team where I didn’t feel supported. Since making my decision, it has been nothing but a whirlwind. I am now a student at San Diego State University (SDSU), I work at The Pride Center at SDSU, am President of SDSU Mock Trial, and intern at the San Diego Diplomacy Council. All of this makes Pride so special to me.
Pride itself is an intriguing word. It can represent an event that brings together 2SLGBTQIA+ folks in the fight for queer and trans rights. It can represent the feeling within an individual that uplifts them. And it can represent the act itself of being proud of yourself, others, and your community. For me, Pride represents all the emotions, struggles, and joy that comes with being a queer person in our modern world.
The emotions that a queer person takes on can be taxing. From navigating how to come out to your friends and family, to questioning why you are queer and don’t fit into the “normal” box as defined by heterosexism and cissexism, queer people are faced with the journey of navigating societal norms and deconstructing its implications.
Moreover, this journey is not without its struggles. A study conducted by the Trevor Project found that 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide this past year and 60% of LGBTQ youth who wanted mental health care in the past year were not able to get it. These numbers speak volumes to the support the 2SLGBTQIA+ community needs. In a time where over 500 anti-LGBTQ+ legislation have been introduced in United States state legislatures and at least 67 countries having national laws criminalizing same-sex relations, it is undeniable that passive allyship is not enough in supporting queer and trans individuals.
To stimulate change and contribute to the progression of 2SLGBTQIA+ rights, we as an international community need to come together to actively support the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. This can look like attending Pride and other movements and protests that increase the visibility of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. It can look like educating oneself about 2SLGBTQIA+ history and identifying the systemic structures that has pushed the societal idea of “normal.” Most importantly, it looks like supporting the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and standing with them in the hardest moments.
At the same time while Pride is a time to confront these struggles and take a stand against 2SLGBTQIA+ hate, it is also a time to celebrate the love and support the 2SLGBTQIA+ community has been able to foster. When I entered SDSU three years ago, I was part of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community but struggled to feel at home within the community.
As I grappled with these emotions, I enrolled in the Pride House Mentoring program where I began to create connections with the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. For the first time, I was in a space that understood a side of me that I had tried to push away for so long. I created friendships that I hold so close to my heart and developed a sense of belonging that stays with me to this day. Pride reminds me of these moments. Being able to find community and joy in any way is worth celebrating and honoring.
Lastly, Pride is not just a month long event, it is an ongoing mindset. One that encourages us to stand together and celebrate growth, joy, and community while also uniting to support, uplift, and fight for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. This year, I encourage you to stand with your local queer and trans community. Whether it is donating to a 2SLGBTQIA+ organization, attending a Pride parade (see you on July 15 to march with SDDC!), or educating yourself about queer and trans history and issues, active allyship is about showing up. This year, this day, and every day after, take a stand with the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.