June 7, 2021
I just bought a little two-level cardboard house for my cats with rainbows on it. It says “Love is Love,” and they mostly ignore it, but it makes me happy to look at it. It won’t be the only rainbow-emblazoned impulse buy I make this month now that all the merchandise is out for Pride – a worldwide celebration of identity, togetherness, and love for the LGBTQ+ community.
Even though I came out as a lesbian over 20 years ago, I get excited when all the rainbow stuff comes out. I enjoy watching the displays of Pride merch go up and feeling represented. But it hasn’t always been that way for me, and those aren’t the emotions that all LGBTQ+ people feel during this time of year.
Embracing All Your Emotions During Pride
There are assumptions and expectations that Pride is a rip-roaring good time for every LGBTQ+ person; that everyone wakes up on June 1st ready to hit the streets wearing the colors and waving the flags that represent them. But being LGBTQ+ is a unique experience for everyone, and sometimes the emotions that come with it are difficult.
Mindfulness encourages us to bring our awareness inward and give ourselves permission to identify and feel all of the emotions that surface in the present moment without judgment. Pride is not a safe space for everyone, and it can be difficult for some people to explain to others who don’t understand the journey that each LGBTQ+ person goes through.
Getting to the place of “out and proud” can take time, and your daily mindfulness practice can be a safe space to be your full and authentic self.
Showing Compassion For Yourself and Others
When I came out in the early 00’s, I was in a small town in the Upper Midwest where Pride didn’t exist yet. I was terrified and angry – why did I have to be gay? Why couldn’t I just be on the same wavelength as my peers? My family and friends didn’t know what to do with me, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. We didn’t know it at the time, but we all needed the same thing – compassion.
Compassion for yourself. The world has moved forward in the last 20 years and it can still be a scary place for the LGBTQ+ community. It is okay to feel confused, scared, angry, and experience the full spectrum of difficult emotions. Even if you’re not at a place where you’ve fully accepted and embraced your identity, practicing self-compassion on a daily basis can help you get there in your own time. Wherever you are in your journey is exactly where you’re supposed to be.
Compassion for others. Support can look different for each LGBTQ+ person. While some people need a friend to walk loudly and proudly beside them in the Pride parade, others may need to lay low and process some difficult emotions. Not everyone is out yet or proud yet, and sometimes being an ally means meeting an LGBTQ+ person where they are in their journey without pushing any Pride events or expecting them to act a certain way. It can be challenging for people outside of the LGBTQ+ community to understand their lived experiences, but adding compassion exercises into your daily routine can help you be a more present, open-minded, and empathetic ally not only during Pride but all year long.
Being Your Authentic Self with Mindfulness
Although I can impulse buy a cardboard Pride house for my cats now and stand proudly in front of the Pride display at Target, it’s been a long journey of discovery and self-love for me to get here. Pride is a time for all of us to bring awareness and acceptance of our own journeys and show compassion for others on their journey, and here are a few live and on-demand mindfulness programs to help us all along the way:
- Cultivating Compassion
- Freedom Through Self-Compassion
- Moving Toward Acceptance Through Compassion
- Difficult Emotions Collection
- Full of Feelings
Written by Becky Greiner