A reflection on how visibility through Pride events impacts the lives of those who attend.

Chris is a 31-year-old Belizean who started out with BYEC because he wanted to do something with his friends and advocate for people around him. He lives in Belmopan and finds himself inspired to be a voice for young people who are often overlooked by policymakers who are usually not people in that age group. He reflects on how engaging in some activities run by BYEC had an impact on his life.

For me, there was always one specific activity that I wanted to attend, the annual Pride. I made sure to be present for it because there aren’t many avenues in which LGBT people could be themselves and have fun, where we could just relax without threats of homophobia.

I always know that when I go there, it’s in a safe space, and all people that I know and I trust. It’s really one of the highlights of my year. I liked going because I see that the community isn’t as small as I thought. You think that there’s so many other people out there going through the same struggle that I am. It gives me hope that– even when I feel that I’m alone, there’re other people out there. It’s inspiring.

When I was younger, I always thought that I was the only gay person, and that I was just a single anomaly in what the world is supposed to be like. It’s always important to me, and I know it’s important to other people to see that, that there are other people like them in the world.

Normally, we think that we should not call attention to ourselves and our normal life so that we aren’t targeted by bigoted people. You have to make yourself smaller a lot of the time. When you go to a Pride event, you see people really embracing the opposite of repression, just being free to wear what they want and they do what they want. I can’t say that there’s a particular moment that really stands out to me because it’s all just so over the top.

Because of events like those and seeing people, I admire the things that they wear, or the way that they conduct themselves. They’re like this and it isn’t just because of Pride, the event is just a tool that they can use to find themselves.

It’s been a struggle to try to overcome my own self-repression, but that’s something I try to do often. Since I’ve seen that other people can do it, I have tried, I’ve experimented doing within myself, as a direct consequence of having seen other people do it at Pride.

There was once this guy, and he was wearing this jumper. It was a very colorful one, very short, and it’s something that would be very traditionally feminine. I don’t know, people there were, including myself, we all thought that it was something beautiful.

Then a month or so ago, I saw a similar jumper that ordinarily I wouldn’t have been brave to wear. I thought I’ve seen somebody wear this before and he got away with it. I thought maybe I could too, because I’d made that purchase then. I haven’t actually been brave enough to wear anything like that in the general public. It’s something that l have tried on maybe in private events, but I’m still working up the nerve to actually wear it out, but I’m getting there.

This form of expression has come out in other parts of my life, where I’ve been given courage to do or think or act a certain way I want, because I know others did it too. Repression is such in that you make yourself smaller because you consider that your identity is formed because of the people around you.

In terms of seeing that other people do not define themselves by what other people think of them, I start to question my own identity as well. I was like, okay, I’ve thought of myself in this way because this is how I am around other people.

Now that I have learned that my identity isn’t dependent upon what other people think of me, has made me question, what is it that I actually think of myself? This journey of self-reflection and realization has been monumental for me and
started when I attended these Pride events.