About a year ago I was browsing online on the look out for a new pair of my favourite boots. Starfish had his head tilted on my shoulder and was looking on; his eyes lit up when he saw the special edition rainbow Pride design and he excitedly shouted “Mama buy these ones!” I was immediately drawn to them too, bright, vibrant, statement boots and even Starfish following up with “You’ll be like Mr Tumble Mama” didn’t put me off.
As I hit “add to basket” though I was hit with doubt. Was it appropriate for me to wear pride boots? Would it be disrespectful of me to align myself with a movement that ultimately I’m not part of? I thought about it for several days and I began to question, what does pride really mean to me.
Pride for me is more than just LGBTQ+ It’s about more than just acceptance and integration. More than freedom of expression. It’s about each and every person on the planet fully owning and appreciating who they are and knowing that every breath, every decision, every word, every hair on their head has a uniquely designed purpose. We can only fully live our lives and our purpose when we not only accept who we are but through our arms wide open and embrace every single bit of ourselves, shining like the absolute superheroes and rock stars that we all are. There’s not one single other you in the world, you’re in a class of one, so how can you fail or get it wrong, you can’t!
The extension of this is when we realise that we are uniquely and perfectly ourselves and therefore every other person in the world is uniquely and perfectly themselves too. We can all shine together and light up the world with vibrant awesome!
I believe that what is behind all acts of discrimination, hate and exclusion is 2 things, fear and ignorance. Fear of the unknown, fear of difference, fear of competition and lack of knowledge, education and insight. Whether it be because of sexual orientation, race, gender, disability, nationality or at the hands of the domineering boss or colleague, most of us have faced this at one time or another.
What I personally realised over time is that the only reason people were able to knock and unsettle me was because my own foundations and self belief were not strong enough in the first place. I was consumed by self loathing and self doubt and the treatment I was receiving was merely reinforcing a belief I held about myself which I allowed to amplify and slowly destroy me. When I eventually ignited my own self worth and developed a loving, understanding relationship with myself, I was able to take back the power I had handed away to others and decide that what other people thought of me or did in their lives had no consequences for me. The stronger I became and the more I took charge of the direction of my own life, the less others could steer me off course with their words or actions. I became my own motivation so I didn’t need encouragement or reassurance from anyone else.
When every person is putting all their energy and attention into being the best version of themselves and creating the life they want to live, they won’t have time to, or need to look over their shoulder to see what anyone else is doing or feel threatened by them. Then we’ll have an end to discrimination and all the other ugly parts of humanity.
Last year, during pride weekend in Belfast I had a speaking event and we decided to bring the kids with us and make it a family trip. The city was awash with colour, laughter, music, smiles and fun. Families, children, teenagers, revelers young and old all contributing to and simultaneously soaking up the carnival atmosphere, decked out in rainbow clothes and creative gorgeousness. I was so happy that we had made the decision to bring the kids with us and immerse ourselves in this beautiful experience. To me it was a micro representation of what the world should and could be like, a true expression of the innate nature of human beings, to love and be loved, regardless of any label.
That is why I will be making pride weekend a family trip for many years to come and why I wear my rainbow boots with pride!