Journeys of Pride: Stories from the LGBTQ+ Community
By: Abby Wilhelm
In honor of Pride month, we reached out to our employees, who are members of the LGBTQ+ community, to talk about their experiences. We are thrilled to be able to share their stories.
I was raised by a family that taught me to be understanding, accepting, and loving. Too many were raised by families fueled by ignorance, fear, and hatred.
I was comfortable and safe coming out to my family. Too many were terrified about coming out to their families or even themselves.
I lived in peace, knowing that they would love me no matter what. Too many live in fear, wondering what would happen if they found out.
During some recent soul searching, I have discovered something very important. I have been blissfully untouched by the hatred and pain that too many people feel, and it shows. To be honest, a part of me did not even feel a need to participate in this blog. I felt that if I had met such little resistance about being gay, then how much harder could it really be for others to come out? I have to remind myself that everybody has a different story. Too many people going through hardships and personal battles are being judged, shunned, and hated by the people they love.
I want to challenge everyone, including myself, to think more often about the people who are struggling to come out or fighting themselves for who they truly are.
- Drew Dino Tyler
There’s a whole lot more to being transgender than most people think.
Think of it like a video game: you have the main quest, and you have side quests. Side quests are smaller, optional objectives that are generally inconsequential. The main quest, however, is literally the whole point of the game. It must be completed. If it’s ignored, you don’t move forward. There’s no in-game progress. Your protagonist just stands around and twiddles their thumbs or chips away mindlessly at side quests.
Transitioning is slapping a second main quest on top of the primary quest.
In addition to normal daily life, you’re tacking on additional doctor’s appointments, new medication, major medical procedures, and expenses related to dressing the flesh suit to make it more tolerable to exist in. Clothing is expensive, specialty products in particular, and insurance may or may not cover medical transition. You do what you have to do to survive, though, and for us, this is survival.
There’s a monetary cost, but there’s also the time cost. Do you like going to play at your local courthouse, DMV, and social security office? Neither do I, but if I want my documents updated, I’m taking a field trip to spend time with Father Mo and Uncle Sam. Then, when documents are updated, you spend hours updating your information with your financial institutions, utility companies, creditors, merchants, and any other service providers.
With a second main quest comes new enemies and bosses, too. Sometimes, those enemies are family members, friends, and role models that were once allies. The new bosses are the local, state, and federal legislators that suddenly want to declare you less than human. We’re called mentally ill, delusional, and broken. We’re “abominations.” As it is right now, living our lives in a way that affects literally no one else increases our risk of being the victim of violence.
The next time someone tells you that being transgender is “just for attention,” politely redirect them to the above information. You start up a social media account and take a crack at being an influencer for attention. You don’t risk everything you’ve ever known.
- Jamie Godsey
My journey as a member of the LGBTQ+ community has been overwhelmingly positive. Coming out to my friends and family at 21 went far smoother than I had anticipated. Now, I'm happily married to my wonderful wife, and, for the most part, things are good. Our wedding day, surrounded by our families and friends, remains one of my most cherished memories.
However, while I consider myself fortunate, it's important to acknowledge the realities we face. Sometimes I feel unsafe holding my wife's hand in public or have to bite my tongue in the face of a stranger’s ignorant remarks. It can be disheartening.
As members of this community, we are responsible for representing not only ourselves but our entire community. The pressure can be tiring, and there are days when I wish we didn't have to fight for rights that others take for granted. But I firmly believe life doesn't have to be easy to be fulfilling.
Pride month is a time to celebrate the trailblazers who paved the way for us and the ongoing fight for our rights. Today we honor our victories, reflect on our losses, and keep moving forward. Together, we can continue their legacy and strive for a more inclusive future.
- Abby Wilhelm
At Electro, we know it’s not enough to be an ally just during Pride month, and we are grateful to our employees who chose to share their experiences.