Sarah Hayes: What Pride Means To Me

Scene from Fuller Lodge during prior Los Alamos Pride Week. Courtesy photo

Friends of Los Alamos Pride

Until 2019, I never attended a Pride event. It might seem odd, considering I’ve been a part of the LGBT community since high school, back when I identified as bisexual. I was part of my undergraduate’s LGBTQ+ student group, and I joined the LANL LGBTQ+ group, Prism, when I moved to Los Alamos in 2018. However, I never made an effort to go to a Pride parade or take part in any Pride festivities.

Part of me didn’t like the big crowds and parties that were common in my hometown of Saint Louis, Missouri. But a larger part of me thought that I didn’t belong at Pride, that I wasn’t queer enough. I had so many doubts about my sexual orientation, my gender identity, but not the right language to even describe it. And so I shut myself out of the largest celebration of people exactly like me.

And then in 2019, I attended Los Alamos Pride. That Friday, literally right before I hopped on the downtown circulator to go attend the celebrations taking place outside Fuller Lodge, I came out as biromantic asexual to my friends and family. I then got on the bus and felt all the anxiety I had built up be replaced by something else: anticipation for what the future had in store for me.

When I walked through Central Park Square, surrounded by folks young and old clad in rainbows and Pride flags, it felt like an incredible weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I had finally figured out a major part of my identity. It felt right. It felt genuine. It was me. And at Pride, I was surrounded by people—many of whom had also gone through similar journeys and come out the other end more grounded in their own identities.

I watched folks in the YMCA Express building singing karaoke, being unapologetically carefree and happy as they sang Broadway musical numbers. I saw young kids making paper versions of the Pride flags that matched their identity, and listened to queer poets take the open stage and perform their works. I felt accepted and loved, and I was filled with so much relief I cried, and I wondered why I waited so long to get to experience such a feeling.

Pride is, at its heart, about that acceptance and love. It is a space where you will be celebrated for who you are, no matter your gender or sexual identity. For me, Pride is the place where I’ve felt comfortable with myself in a way few other places have made me feel. Now, in 2021, as an openly out non-binary asexual person, I am honored to be a part of Los Alamos Pride. I want to help bring that feeling of acceptance and love to those who may be struggling with accepting themselves and feeling like they belong anywhere.