By Jamie Kirk

Most of us have all been through jobs switches, relationships gone bad, health scares, family drama, financial woes, lost homes, lost cars and probably a laundry list of other “life wrinkles” that we tried to navigate on our own. We didn’t tell a soul. We grin, we bare it, and we go at it, alone. Without support, without advice, without comforting arms, without someone praying for us. We just man up (or woman up) and deal with it. I don’t know why or where or how we thought this was okay, ’cause it’s not. We have to have support; we need it. None of us can make it in this life alone, and we don’t have it.

This month, as we celebrate Pride, it is so much more than a celebration of YOUR life. It should be a celebration of everyone that touches YOUR life. Pride in the people that help shape your decision-making process. Pride in people that challenge you and make you better. Pride in the family that finally “comes around.” Pride in the exes that made you stronger. Pride in the relationships that didn’t happen, that saved you even more life experiences. Pride should not be contained to just our individual contribution of our life; Pride has to be shared. And if you know anything about Pride, you know that when you are full of Pride, it overflows and oozes out of every pore. 

It really kills me that we think of Pride as just something for the LGBTQ+ community. We should be displaying Pride daily, monthly, etc. We don’t need a special month for people that are LGBTQ+ to be recognized and celebrated. People that are not part of that community should also be celebrated because they have the burden of lifting up those people that are struggling with coming out, people that are uncomfortable in their skin, people that have had their families turn their backs on them. The people that are in their “village” needs to be uplifted and celebrated also. Pride has to be spread around, just like the love that people display in supporting the people in their lives.  

It takes a village is an ancient African proverb which says it takes a whole village to raise a child. In other words, it takes everyone that touches that child, to help mold, shape, discipline, reward, love, and look after the child. To put this into context, the village in the LGBTQ+ community is the whole community. The responsibility of allowing a person to be authentically who they are, unapologetically being their best selves. The village is the ones that take the person in when the world turns their back. The village is support groups that allow people to come in, free of charge, and express themselves without judgment. The village is the landlord that understands that the female impersonator tenant, had to quit her job because the owner turned out to be a racist, and she needs some relief and a few more days to come up with the rent. The village is the corporation that bends the rules to allow the unmarried couple to have the perks of a married couple. The village is the editor that allows the contributing writer of an LGBTQ+ focused magazine to write articles to help supplement their income.  

It takes the entire community to represent the village fully. The community, in our case, is not just Midtown; it is not just Decatur, or O4W, it is the entire city, state, country. The village needs to be considered as the representation of the people. The people that have been supported and the people that have survived despite the efforts to destroy them and everything they may stand for. The village is not the parents, the kids, the immediate loved ones; it is the spider web of people touched through daily interactions. People that bite their tongues when they want to give advice. The folks that have to deal with the fall-out of the bad choices. These are the people that need to be celebrated also. These “village people” are the ones that really are doing the heavy lifting and need to be recognized and acknowledged. 

Being prideful and feeling prideful is important to our ability to survive. We can’t do it alone. I know we think we can, but we can’t. We have to have a village. We need support. We need relationships that make us better people. Relationships that remind us to love ourselves when it is hard. The people that make us face adversity with strength and courage. These are the real heroes. The people that matter. Our village is deserving of pride celebrations also. 

Every time a flag is waved, an amendment is passed, or a person is vindicated in the LGBTQ+ community, the celebration needs to be for all. All of the village. All of the folks that take a stand and say “that is not right, even though that does not impact me directly, it impacts someone in my village,” needs to be celebrated. It is essential and necessary that they feel celebrated too. To each and every one of the members of anyone’s village, please know you also are celebrated. No one can do it alone.