Kelly Dolejsi: What Pride Means To Me

Henna art during a previous Pride event. Courtesy photo

Board Member
Los Alamos Pride

As a kid, I learned not to trust myself. Adults and even my friends seemed to know better than I did what was best for me, what I should do, how I should behave, and often how I should feel. I began to look outward to find out who I was, as though someone would tell me. I also became preoccupied with trying to please people, from my parents and teachers to people I barely knew: the person serving me coffee, the neighbor walking their dog. Other people’s opinions, or imagined opinions, determined how I felt about myself. My happiness felt out of my control. 

In addition to all the usual insecurities, I had confusion and fear about my sexuality and gender identity that I didn’t deal with at all. I didn’t know why I felt depressed, anxious, and angry. I didn’t know how to get better. But at some point, I had journaled enough and gone through enough therapy to start figuring it out. And then, shockingly, I didn’t hate the person I found. 

Pride to me means radical acceptance of my own uniqueness. The labels I’ve explored within the LGBTQIA+ spectrum have helped me learn more about who I desire and how I love. Pride Week celebrates that work. It’s incredibly validating. And I’m incredibly grateful. Self-inquiry still sometimes feels dangerous. I get scared that everything will come crashing down, the whole sky and all the massive rocks floating around beyond it. The universe, or at least my universe, will fall apart. But it hasn’t happened. Through taking many relatively small risks, I keep discovering that I can trust myself. I am my own safe space.