Unapologetically Queer: My Pride in Retrospect

Looking inward to find the true meaning of Pride Month
PatrickRodelAczonPatrickRodelAczon
Jun. 26
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Cherie is an online community of beauty lovers sharing their stories; whether that's their favorite products, makeup tutorials, or skincare routines. Download the app today to be a part of #BeautyWithoutBarriers and show the world what beauty means to you!It was a beautiful day in San Francisco - where I was on my way to my very first Pride. It was not your typical Sunday at the Bart station. What once was a train of empty seats, was now quickly filled with shimmery tutu’s and rainbows galore. I remember being with my close friends waiting at the Bart station, where an ample of emotions rushed through me. There was an undeniable excitement and nervousness that was present all at once. It was more than a burst of fireworks - it was a flame that completely engulfed me. I felt cosmic. Pride covered the sky with a blanket of victory. People around the world gathering together in a safe space to celebrate their queerness and love was a concept that not only inspired me - but also solidified and strengthened my spirit as well as everyone around me. I looked around and noticed everyone’s joy and laughter. I remember laying out on the grass and thought to myself, “I am exactly where I am supposed to be.” This feeling was something I would never dare to forget. As a young, queer man - I never felt so safe. Growing up BaklaI have always dreamed of a life that aligned with my true identity. I believe once that’s attained, not only have you found happiness, but a narrative that is unapologetically you. We’re all taught at a young age to “be ourselves” —whatever that may entail. I think we can all agree that it is easier said than done. But what if I told you that being queer was the last thing I wanted to do when I was younger? On some days, I liked being in the skin I was born with. Yet on other days, when society was telling me who I should be, what gender to like, and what toys I should play with; that is when I came to a sudden realization: Being yourself is quite harder than one may think. This is my story of unmasking my true identity, stripped away from all of the outside noise, and becoming the person I love the most today.
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“Bakla” is what they would call me when I was younger. This meant ‘gay’ in tagalog. Growing up as a Filipino American, this was a nickname some of my Titas and Titos would call me (Aunties and Uncles). I remember them calling me this at the young age of five years old when I picked up my first Barbie doll. I did not necessarily understand what the word meant or tried to understand because of how young I was. I wanted to be allowed to not care - but this simply was not possible. As I grew older, I began to put the pieces together. I began to notice the tone in which people were using it and how they were using it. It didn’t make me feel good or welcomed at all. It actually made me want to hide forever. I remember watching myself cry in my parents’ vanity mirror, wishing I was someone else, and in this case “straight”. I would pray to God every night hoping he would somehow alter the way I was. Reprogram me, in a sense. Design me a little bit “better.” This is also when I had the biggest awakening of my life: You cannot satisfy everyone. A Realization of Pride and SelfWhen I turned thirteen, I had an epiphany. I realized how unhappy I was trying to be someone I was not. The constant effort put into my facade started to take a toll on my mental health. I began to question my own character and how much I valued living my truth. Shortly after, the process of self-love came into play. I started to embrace the person I was becoming, mistakes and all.
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I would look at my reflection day by day and accept who I was when no one else would. Life is not about impressing others or toning yourself down to fit someone else’s perception or mold of you. You are unique and revolutionary. Your beauty could burn for an eternity. You are the standard and you are brilliant. Capable. Resilient. Loving the skin I was born with was not always easy, but the journey to do so has been incredibly humbling. I recall a moment at the Pride Parade where I thought about my experiences and I could not stop myself from crying. When you grow up trying so hard to have others validate you, there is a major disconnect. You begin to ask yourself questions and your confidence crumbles. I decided that my existence alone was enough. The feeling of loneliness dissipated as quickly as I first felt it. I was surrounded by people who may not have the same story as me — but understood the pain and rejection I once felt. As human beings, we yearn for connection and intimacy. We want to feel like we belong. We all want to have a voice and be heard. At the age of 25, I believe I have found it and I never stopped celebrating.
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