Navigating Pride and Identity in a Changing World

June 20, 2024

Guest Blog by Ivon Favela, MPA, Deputy Director of Training

What does it mean to have pride? You can google the word and find that it is a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from, among other things, personal qualities and dignity with which one closely associates.

It is easy to connect to dignity in relationships when no one questions its validity. I know this, having the privilege of living 33 years as a cis-gendered heterosexual woman. Although admittedly walking around not knowing what I did not know. It wasn’t until I turned 34, that I found myself in a new skin. I was newly divorced, in love with a woman, and had just experienced the loss of my mother. My Christian mother. The world felt new as I had shed my old skin, with my identity as a wife, and daughter. With my new relationship I expected to experience some judgment from immediate family and friends. Still, I hadn’t expected to be thrust into a world that was no longer safe. Not safe in the way that I had known it to be.

This new world, with my new skin, was no longer a safe place to show PDA. Much less, safe enough to leave Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles at night, laughing and hugging my partner. It wasn’t until I heard the obscene words and felt the hatred from a slowly passing car with a group of men inside, that I understood my privilege to express affection was limited. The world my new two feet were walking in was different.

The place where I found myself was rife with risks, affection at the risk of verbal assault. Soft touch in exchange for violence. I was also haunted by the echoes of my mother’s faith. It was the ghost of judgment that was left behind for me after her passing. This was compounded by the fact that I moved into my mother’s house after she passed. Behind every corner was a memory, and the belief that my journey was one that would not lead to her side in heaven.

I continued in my sensitive state, but not without questioning my identity. Slowly, I began to negotiate my existence. My pride or my safety? Safety. Camouflage. Those two ultimately won, and they kept me tethered and or imprisoned. My relationship ultimately lasted nine years, until it was completely suffocated by safe shallow spaces. Am I proud of being safe? I am alive and physically unhurt after all. But safety comes in many forms and living small hurts the spirit.

Here we are. Celebrating Pride Month after 54 years of others’ sacrifice in order to live unbound. Pride month is a demonstration of embracing one’s dignity. It’s a stand-on-top-of-a- float-in-the-middle-of-your-town-or-city to say, ‘I take deep pleasure and satisfaction in who I am!’ Pride welcomes voices from all those who love freely. It welcomes all those who are tired of repressed identities and condemnation for being an “other.” Systems of oppression and those who support them need to hear the voices, see their representatives, and understand that once one has the pride and dignity to celebrate leaving the shadows, we will only amplify.

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