If you’ve been to a history class in the last few years, you probably remember hearing about the “Age of Enlightenment.” During this period people around the world (but mostly in Europe) began theorizing about what things every human should have. Among these people was philosopher John Locke, you’ll want to know his name if you’re taking your American History final any time soon. Locke strongly believed that, naturally, each person should have the right to “life, liberty, and property.” This is how natural laws came about, but that’s for your history teacher to talk about.
A few decades later America declared it’s independence, changed John’s wording, and said that each person has the right to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
And that’s why Columbus’ Pride parade is important.
Your right to life, in the most basic interpretation, means that no one should be able to stop you from living. In some countries, being queer means being stoned to death. In some countries, being a different skin color or having a different political view means that you’re targeted and that your right to life is discarded.
But that doesn’t mean if you’re black, queer, vegan, a socialist, or not cis-gendered you should go into hiding. No one should have to change or hide who they are just to live. And that’s what Pride is about, not regretting or changing who you are for someone else. Be proud, and be you.
The right to liberty applies to Pride the same way. No person should be targeted legally (or illegally) because of who they are. Pride is about being respected for who you are, and about respecting others for who they are. Pride is about letting everyone be equal, whether they are like you or not. Pride is about being proud that the train of equality is picking up speed, and that the moral arc of the universe is bending towards justice a little bit more than it had been. So be you, be proud, and let others be too.
When you get a D- on a test you probably aren’t very happy. But when you work hard and get an A, or even a perfect score? You’re ecstatic! You’re proud and you should be!
You see, being proud is a key part of being happy. If you can’t be proud of who you are and what you’ve done, you can’t be happy either. So, in my own, basic, not-college-educated view, the right to pursue happiness is the right to be proud.
Columbus’ Pride parade is about being proud of who you are. It doesn’t matter “what” you are, because (forgive me if I’m wrong) what you are is human. Be proud of your melanin, be proud of your sexuality and your personality, be proud to be you.
Whether it’s to show your pride or to find it, going to Columbus’ Pride parade on June 17th is more than worth it.
Exercise your right to be proud, stand up for those who can’t be, and show the world that you are happy to be who you are.
– Jayden Toomer
Image from Becker199 on Flickr