In the LGBTQ+ community, it is known as a world where love knows no boundaries. Annually, Pride Month vibrantly celebrates acceptance, diversity, and simply loving each other for who we are and nothing less. Since the Society for Human Rights in the 1920s, and the Stonewall Riots in 1969, many have been inspired to further discover who they truly are, and live and love freely as they wish and not have to think about societies’ expectations.
Heights High School upcoming senior Olivia Whitley identifies as queer in the LGTBQ community. For her, this blissful month of June is important because it is a chance for her to express who she is to herself as she cannot quite do so comfortably around her religious parents. “I think because they’re so strong in their beliefs, finding out that I’m queer would shatter them,” Whitley says. “So, pride is more of an internal expression. Pride month is a time of embracing all that I am.”
Along her journey, Whitley has struggled the most socially as she found it hard fitting in especially with her majority straight friends. Stating that she doesn’t have many queer friends, she always feels a sort of detachment from them especially when pertaining to “boy talk.” “As much as they try to include me, I always feel that sense of isolation,” says Whitley. Even though she identifies as queer, she often feels that she doesn’t have a specific type at all. She simply just loves compassionate human beings. She says she has tried giving herself a multitude of different labels form lesbian to bisexual, to pansexual, and yet she’s still exploring what queer means to her.
Looking back on the progression of the LGBTQ community since the start of the movement, Whitley noticed much more visibility towards trans rights, and other groups beyond lesbian, gay, and bisexual. As far as representation within TV shows, books, and films, etc., Whitley feels that the community is represented to an extent as far as LGTBQ movies and books, yet the media still lacks Black queer representation. Not only that, but she also feels that homophobia is often embedded in the Black community. “I’d like to see us release ourselves from these conservative views around gay people and begin a more inclusive future.” Whitley often sees it as living in a world full of hatred and animosity simply for loving someone outside of the norm.
Whitley wishes other people her age to have more representation and someone to see themselves in. She does not want anyone to feel alone in the way they feel like she did when trying to fit in with her heterosexual friends. “Once you find your people, that sense of belonging and security is like no other.”