In a job interview recently, they asked what one of my biggest accomplishments has been, what I’m most proud of. And while I could have elaborated on my résumé, while maybe I should have, I decided to go for the honest answer. I told them I proposed a week before, and she said yes.
As a writer, I’ve spent my life believing in the power behind each word in our vocabulary. A word can spark emotion, thought, or action. A word cannot be underestimated. Four of them alone, “Will you marry me,” changed my entire life recently.
The word pride has meant many things to many people, and sometimes that definition brings to mind selfishness or vanity, the hubris I learned about after reading Othello.
People can weaponize a word, you see, but pride is only hurtful, like anything else, when it excludes others.
Gay pride is about inclusion. It is about connectivity. It is about standing tall and proud but not alone.
And for me, a woman who identified as a heterosexual a year ago and is now engaged to a woman, pride is about knowing that my marriage is going to be my biggest accomplishment.
Nikki Macias is strong, much stronger than me. Physically, mentally, emotionally. She grounds me. She is smart. She studies psychology and untangles my thoughts when they’re too entwined for words. She understands that sometimes there simply are no words. That’s what love is about — about comfort in silence, about understanding, and ultimately, about pride.
There are people who are blinded by sexual identity and see nothing else when they meet an LGBTQ person. Pride is not about those people, pride is not a protest. It is not an argument or a war cry. It’s about knowing that self-acceptance must come first. Love, not hatred, must come first.
For me, pride is about Nikki. The LGBTQ community needs pride, but it does not always have to be pickets and chants. It can be as simple as me holding her hand or putting a diamond ring on it. As simple as saying “I love you” and meaning it with my whole heart.
— Brooke Clayton