My name is Raevynna and today I’d like to share with you what Pride means to me.
Pride month can mean a lot of different things to different people, after all, each person experiences and interprets Pride in their own unique way. For some, Pride is pretty self-explanatory, it’s about being unashamed and unapologetic of who you are. For others, Pride is about honouring the sacrifices and hardships of those who fought to get us where we are today and those who continue this fight all around the world. For others, it’s about showing up and showing off; in the hopes that someone else will witness your bold declaration of Pride and feel inspired enough to be themselves and experience a little Pride of their own.
For a lot of people, myself included, Pride is about love. Love that has no borders. Love that knows no gender, color, or creed. Love for others irrespective rather than despite their differences. And above all, love for oneself. To be honest, Pride has always been hard for me because love is hard. Loving those who are different from you is never easy and sometimes even loving those who are just like you, can be quite the challenge. But for me personally, the hardest part about Pride has always been loving myself.
I grew up feeling like a stranger in my body. You see, I was assigned male at birth, but despite that, today present and identify as a woman, and in addition to this, I was classified as morbidly obese as a teenager; for those of you who don’t know, it’s a clinical term used to describe individuals who have an exceedingly high weight to height ratio. I’m sure you can imagine how it felt being told I was so fat that there was a special medical term for it.
In a fatphobic and cisheternormative world, I experienced a lot of hate and judgment for who I am. From micro-aggressions to harsh words, as a kid I internalised a lot of this hate, taking the harsh opinions of others and believing what they told me to be true. And for a long time I lived with chronic feelings of shame and guilt over my body, a far cry from the self-love and Pride one sees celebrated every June.
So growing up, even as a young trans teen, I never felt comfortable partaking in Pride, just the thought of draping myself in pink, blue, and white and marching alongside the rainbow tide filled me with tremendous anxiety. It made me feel like a fraud. Who was I to partake in this celebration of self-love when so much of my inner dialogue was anything but loving. And as a result, I felt very isolated and alone. This led me to question whether or not I was even part of this community.
For a long time I wondered if I would ever love myself and experience Pride, and if it was possible, how would I get there? And it’s only after a lot of trial and error that I realised that self-love doesn’t just happen. Self-love is a choice, one that you make every day. And at its core, self-love is rooted in the most simple act of love, kindness. The quickest way to self-love, in my experience, is by practicing self-kindness.
Whenever I find myself being overly critical of my appearance or whenever I find myself internally berating myself over a mistake, I take a deep breath and remind myself that it’s okay to not be perfect. It’s okay to feel disappointed in myself. It’s okay that I don’t like how I look and just because I don’t like how I look in this particular moment, doesn’t mean I won’t feel differently later on and nor does it mean I’m not beautiful, to begin with. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so maybe I’m not ugly, maybe I’m just not my type. I saw a quote somewhere that said; “flowers and fairy lights look nothing alike, but both are beautiful in their own unique way.”
By giving myself the space to feel these negative emotions, I found I had given myself the grace to rise above them. In other words, I try talking to myself, in the same way, I would talk to someone I care about because we are often harsher on ourselves than we are on others. And it has helped. It’s helped more than I could ever have imagined.
Now, I’m not saying I no longer experience bad days, I still do! But on those bad days, instead of being harsh on myself and allowing myself to spiral downwards in guilt, shame, and self-loathing, I follow a small ritual: I take a step back from whatever I’m doing, placing my left palm on my abdomen and my right palm on my chest. I take a deep breath and tell myself “it’s okay.” Whatever I’m feeling, whatever I’m experiencing, “it’s okay”.
This is how I practice self-kindness, and each time I do, I find myself a little further on the path to self-love and Pride.
We’d like to say a massive thank you to Raevynna for sharing her story with us and our community!
Need some support?
BELONGTO: Support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in Ireland.
ShoutOut.ie: A great organisation providing support and advice to the LGBT+ community.
TENI: Supports and seeks to improve the conditions, rights and equality of trans people and their families in Ireland.
If you would like to support us and the work that we do, you can find out more below