A few words, some thank-yous, and a whole lot of pride by Kailee Haong

I tried for days to formulate meaningful words regarding what occurred in Orlando. I typed sentences, retracted them. I jotted down words on pages just to erase or cross them out. Inevitably I came to one conclusion: Me, the girl that talks too much or writes too often—I simply can’t find any words for this situation.

When you boil it all down, the one thing we need is love. The LGBTQ+ community needs love. we need to stop being pushed under the rug and forgotten after everyone has made their “prayers for ____” posts and photos of rainbow flags with hashtags screaming #solidarity or #istandwithyou. Because support isn’t a 24-hour deal. True support comes in the form of friends reaching out after the attacks telling me that they love me, that they wanted to remind me that my feelings are valid and I’m important (seriously, you guys are my backbone). True support comes in active change, rather than passive proclamations of peace. True support is involvement, not thoughts or prayers.

See us. Hear us. Grieve with us.

I was genuinely afraid to attend the Seattle Pride Parade on Sunday, for fear of the worst-case scenario. It disheartened me to feel uncomfortable in an environment where I’d previously felt nothing but love and acceptance. Despite my apprehension, I went anyways, because my desire to stand with my community during this time was stronger than my fear of any acts of hate against us.

The support and love in Seattle was overwhelming. Never before have I felt so proud and so comfortable being hand-in-hand with my girlfriend in such a huge city.

So, here’s my cheesy, personal-garbage-esque caveat:

I am proud. I am really damn proud of who I am, where I’m going, and the girl I love. It certainly isn’t easy being so unapologetically ‘you,’ but it’s something I’ve always strived to do. Hate can’t stop me. Fear won’t stop me.

I am here. I am visible. I am proud. I am loved, supported, and cared for, and that’s just what I’m going to do to everyone else in my life.

To my LGBTQ+ friends: I love you guys like mad—especially those who have confided in me and felt comfortable and safe enough to do so. You’re loved, and I’ll always be here to support you. (And to the closeted ones, you’re strong and beautiful and I love you).

To my incredible hetero buddies: You guys make the best allies out there. Thanks for always having my back and please know that I will always have yours.

To my family who’s supported me no matter the circumstance: You’ve proven that me being me is a-ok and I couldn’t thank you enough for that.

To my girlfriend who goes through the same prejudice and hardships: I will never hide you, I will never stop holding your hand in public, I will never stop being proud to love you.

To leave you with a quote as always:

What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it’s curved like a road through mountains.
— Tennessee Williams | A Street Car Named Desire

xx, Kailee