Do you know how uncomfortable it is to be gay?

I was uncomfortable every minute of every day for the first 17 years of my life. I knew I was different and didn’t know why, and sitting with that feeling every moment is massively uncomfortable. Then I realized I was gay, but SmallTown Tennessee & The Church™️ told me it wasn’t okay to be gay. Everyone I knew and everywhere I looked told me it wasn’t okay. So I hid it and I fought it. I lived my life being uncomfortable.

I eventually started coming out at 17. I became slightly more comfortable, and I thought I released some of that. But that discomfort still didn’t go away-it shifted.

Existing as an out gay person in 2022 is massively uncomfortable because we are still feared by religious communities, the government, and a lot of straight people (I don’t have time to draw out that Venn diagram, but you get it). Our existence makes them all uncomfortable, so they attack us to make themselves feel comfortable. The discomfort is constantly given back to us, forever our burden.

Every time I post a photo of myself & my husband, I lose hundreds of followers. I’ve been posting about Pride, and I’ve been losing hundreds of followers. I DON’T CARE. I don’t care about the number of followers I have. I never have.

I care about being visible, even though it still makes me uncomfortable because there are people of all ages shoved into closets and boxes and terrible situations because they are gay. I care because I’m 32, and I’m still not always comfortable saying ‘I’m gay’ out loud. I care about uncomfortable queer people seeing this and feeling a little more comfortable with themselves. I care about allies understanding more of our story so they can help us feel more comfortable by having uncomfortable conversations when they hear or see us being attacked.

This is just one of many reasons we need Pride Month. We need Pride Month because we’re still constantly being attacked—online, in the streets, in the church, on social media, in the media, in group texts, in our DMs, in your DMs, in friend groups, at parties, in school, in libraries, and in all three branches of the government.

We have Pride Month because we’re still fighting to be comfortable. We’re still fighting to be normal. We’re still fighting to not be attacked for just existing.

If that makes you uncomfortable, I encourage you to find out where those feelings are coming from and figure it out. The queer community making you uncomfortable is not our fault—it’s yours. We don’t deserve the burden of being uncomfortable just for being gay. We deserve to live freely as ourselves.

Leah Tribbett took these photos on film when she shot our Coffee + Pride photos, and when she sent them to me, I cried. I cried in public because they made me feel comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. I cried because I look and feel proud. I cried because I’ve felt uncomfortable my whole life, and these photos let me release a little more of that.

So I’m going to keep posting about Pride. I’m going to keep posting about politics. I’m going to keep posting about important conversations that affect our whole community.