Way back in October of last year, I was asked to co-emcee Sioux Falls Pride with Blaise Keller from KDLT. At the time, I was like, "Ya! No problem. It will be super fun."
But then as it got closer, I started to panic a little bit. Public speaking is scary, y'all. I know I'm on the radio everyday, but actually seeing your audience is terrifying. Plus, they asked us to speak about why Pride is important to us and get a little personal. I know I reveal a lot about myself on the radio, but I don't usually get very sentimental. I told the story of my best friend from high school, Eric, coming out to me and why LGBTQ equality is important to me and why I'm proud to be an ally.
ICYMI here is my speech:
"I'm a nerd so I looked up the definition of ally because that’s what I am in the LGBTQA. The definition of ally is to combine or unite a resource or commodity with (another) for mutual benefit. I found that interesting considering this year's theme is 'unity' that unite was in the definition.
I know, in my life, being an ally has been mutually beneficial. My best friend from high school, Eric, came out to me when we were both in college. He went away to college in California, and he called me one day and said he needed to tell me something. He told me he was gay. Honestly, I had suspicions, but I told him that it didn’t matter to me, we’d still be friends and when will you be home for Christmas? It really didn’t change much of our friendship. He later told me that he had me on speaker phone with other people in the room because he wasn’t sure what my reaction would be. My reaction of course was one of acceptance and unconditional love. I couldn’t believe that Eric thought that I would have reacted any other way. Eric and I are still friends to this day. I know now that him coming out to me was just one of many times he would have to say, “I’m gay” to someone he cared about. And it was one of the many times he would have to worry about being rejected or disrespected.
I really learned what it was to be an ally then. I was one of the only people from our hometown that knew his truth for a long time. I remember his family would say things like, “That shirt is so gay” and I could see and feel how uncomfortable it made Eric. But I think the fact that he had me to talk to or to rely on made it a little easier. He didn’t have to go through it alone. Eventually, Eric came out to everybody in his life and everybody is accepting and things are good.
I know Eric and I mutually benefit from our friendship, our unity, our alliance. I was there for him and he has been there for me. I know people get hung up on labels sometimes. He’s gay, I’m straight. He’s a boy, I’m a girl. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. I know it's kind of cheesy, but the only label that really mattered to us was friend.
I’m proud to say that I am an ally and I’m honored to be here today with all of you celebrating and uniting people of all kinds."
P.S. I asked Eric's permission to share his story and he was totally cool with it.
I was super nervous. I was a little shaky and I could tell it was in my voice a little bit. But nervous poops aside, I think it went well.
After, my emcee duties were over, I took a walk around the Terrance Park to check out all the vendors, had a couple beers, and basically got to hang out with a bunch of my friends. It was a great day. (I mean, besides the constant sweating and the sunburn.)
Can't wait to do it again next year!