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  • Jason Wood

Peace. Hope. Pride.

In a time when gay pride is under attack and homophobia is the flavor of the season, it is scary to share my authentic self with strangers. Add to that, being a married gay couple moving to the country. Needless to say, we were a little unsure about how welcomed and safe we would be in our new community.

Will this move cause my internalized homophobia to worsen? Will I put that mask back on and be ashamed of who I truly am? Are we setting ourselves up for isolation, and worse of all, violence?

The anxious waves in my mind calmed somewhat the first time we drove down Main St and saw an LGBTQ+-owned and friendly coffee shop. Then we started meeting our neighbors who have been among some of the nicest, most-welcoming folks ever. I’m sure not everyone “agrees'' with how we live our lives but they “accept” us and that’s all I could ever hope for.

Next, we learned some individuals within the community planned to host our village’s first ever Pride Festival in June. I knew we had to go, but I was damn nervous to do so.

Again, will there be violence? Will there be protests? What if nobody shows up? What if I’m judged and humiliated?

As expected, some in the community were not happy and posted their opinions and threats online. This further fed into the internalized homophobia and made me wish I could just hide. Still, something within me kept telling me I had to go.

I can’t let hate win. I can’t let anxiety win. I can’t let this internalized homophobia and insecurity dictate my actions for one more damn day. I’ve had enough.

I wanted to throw up in the car ride there. I wanted to turn the car around multiple times between our house and town. I wanted my husband Matt to say we shouldn’t go.

I didn’t get what I wanted. Instead, I got exactly what I needed.

Our little town of 4,000 had hundreds of folks show up in support of Gay Pride. From children to the elderly, it was a diverse group of individuals all celebrating love and togetherness. There were no protests, no violence, and no visible homophobia. Rather, I found peace and hope in the world and in myself.

Man, it’s incredible what can happen when we step out of our comfort zones and challenge the narratives that hold us hostage.


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