This blog was written by a young author who has chosen to remain anonymous

Pride is not something that comes naturally to me; it was not something that was taught or handed on a silver platter free of charge. It was something I had to discover for myself secretly after years of questions and doubt, while facing the harsh reality of society. Growing up in rural Canada, my personal identity is often assumed to be sinful and unconventional, often shunned and protested. 

For me, learning about my identity has granted me the privilege and opportunity to connect with a community that society taught me was something to avoid. Who I am, is nothing to be ashamed of– it's something to be celebrated. For me, my pride has generated the skills I knew were necessary to achieve my full potential. Although Canada is a free country and same-sex marriage was legalized in 2005, our society has not fully come to terms with acceptance. 

Although on paper Canada may look accepting, there are still deep roots of homophobia hiding in plain sight. So for me, I am still learning how to avoid these obstacles while trying to stay safe, and live to my full potential. 

Like most, questions and doubts were how I discovered my sexuality; I always knew there was something different about me, I often did not see eye to eye with what my male friends were talking about when it came to liking girls, crushes and other interests and hobbies. Growing up, I never had any crushes, odd although it may sound, as a cisgendered gay man, there was never a spark with a girl, since my church taught me that being gay avoided it at all costs. And on the other hand crushes on the male gender happened for me the same way it did for my straight friends.

I remember in junior high school when everyone got their first “partner”; it wasn’t the same as what I expected. Now I see it as people discovering a sense of themselves and realizing who they were. My straight friends never had to hide their true identity, liking who they liked was part of growing up and was celebrated. Since the opposite holds true for me, it was for that reason that my identity was being concealed, But questions began to arise, and my identity was beginning to change.

While for most part, high school was a safe haven for me, I still felt like I never belonged. While being the president of many school, and community-related commitments, strengthening my connection with my community and school was always my main goal. I always lived by the motto “if it seems like there is nothing to do, open a different door.” For the most part, that is how I strived to make my community a better place. But while doing so, the connection within myself seemed like it was beginning to fade. 

After years of concealing who I was, I learned that it was easier to forget about it and laugh it off when people asked me why I did not have a girlfriend. It was in grade 12 when I really discovered who I dreamed to be. While never officially “coming out” to my community, I came out to myself. Beginning that personal journey has always and will always be my strongest achievement. 

While not thinking about it until I was given the opportunity to talk about what pride meant to me in a blog, the lengths and journey I had to overcome is something to be tremendously proud of. AlthoughI may not be able to celebrate it within my community for various reasons, my pride is not any less than anyone else's. Learning about my identity, the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, and who I was as a person, is what pride means to me. I am sharing my story with hopes that the lives of youth like me across the world will change for the better, so they can live their true identity regardless of some of the current views on the community currently, which will be something I would always fight for with pride.