June is Pride Month and more than anything, it is my yearly reminder of an impossible dream that has come true.
Growing up as a black, bisexual woman, living that true identity was impossible in a country that would put me in jail (literally) for wearing jeans outside. I lived in a country where I would get kicked out of class for not wearing the hijab properly.
In an environment where my mere existence as a woman was already a tough reality, my gender and sexual orientation were a luxury I couldn’t afford.
Last year, I put on a glittering mini dress and celebrated my very first pride weekend. As I was given a pink rose by a trans artist that came off stage during that weekend, something inside me healed. Being surrounded by people that experience negativity (and sometimes worse) because of their own identity and who they choose to love is a deep trauma that has nowhere else to heal except in countries like this. Countries where pride is celebrated out loud and outside.
I thought I’d have to settle for the way most people in oppressive countries celebrate pride: silently in fear.
Growing up across cultures and religions, big city wide celebrations were mainly about religion or national independence which I always celebrated on a surface level. I dutifully returned smiles, holiday-themed greetings and attended gatherings. All of which head no meaning and evoked no emotions in me.
But to be walking alongside individuals like myself during Pride, feeling the cathartic heat from everyone’s inner heart and experiencing the tidal wave of acceptance and love is truly magical. It is a dream come true being part of a culture that celebrates love in all of its differences. Love and the freedom of expression. The two things that people are incarcerated, killed or ostracized for where I come from.
So every day this month, I wear something I would have been jailed, raped, beaten or killed for in my past life - three of which I had already been victim of, regardless. Every day this month, I proudly wear the things I was too afraid even to buy. That’s why this month is my favourite time of the year because every day that I get to live as I truly am is an impossible dream come true.