Pride Project 2020: What does “Pride” mean to me? – Empowerment and Identity by Ella-Hope Barrington-Bailey

A rainbow icon includes the following title. Pride project 2020. What does pride mean to me? Empowerment and identity. By Ella-Hope Barrington-Bailey

Welcome to Pride Project 2020! In this day-long series, a few queer writers share a moment of Pride on the last day of Pride Month. Read all the Pride Project posts (and identity posts) here. This post is by Ella-Hope Barrington-Bailey.

What does pride mean to me? Well, that is a question I have had difficulty answering throughout my life. I’ve been questioning where I stand in the LGBT community and even with heterosexuality. I came out as bisexual when I was 13 and I screamed to my close friends and family how proud I was of my new identity. But this year, I’ve started to think that the word “bisexual” and the name “Ella-Hope” might not be as synonymous as I thought. 

When I was 6, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Asperger’s Syndrome is a developmental disorder which I have struggled with maintaining my whole life. According to my own research and experience, being on the autistic spectrum means that I am very hypersensitive to situations that others might not care so much about. Not only do I struggle with expressing myself verbally, but I struggle with fitting in, and I tend to mimic, copy, or imitate others’ personalities/sexualities as well.  

At the time of my “realisation”, LGBT acceptance was very prevalent within my circle of friends, and this gave me an undying need to fit in with them. Looking back, I realised that the label I used to describe myself was shaped by other people’s identity and who they were, not who I am. In 2020 thus far, I have really had to look inside myself and think about what makes me unique compared to other people. I have spent all of the year so far exploring who I am and what I like, from my favourite colours to the mannerisms that I use daily, and to my sexuality. 

When I think of LGBT pride, I think of the rainbow flag being held in the air, or thousands of people of all sexualities marching with honour. For me, in the past, LGBT pride has always been something that other people have been a part of and an existing idea that I’ve never felt that I related to. 

Discovering my identity has been a long and confusing journey of dating apps, Buzzfeed quizzes, and being honest about my opinions more. However, even though I am learning a lot about who I am, I don’t know for sure what my sexuality really is. Even now, I am on this continuous journey of questioning how I identify myself. 

Although I haven’t reached a conclusion about my sexuality label, I have seen through finding myself how pride doesn’t only mean what your sexuality is. It doesn’t mean that you have to fit in with LGBT society. It can also be about what you genuinely feel proud of and what you love to display to the world. In my life, that has been the world of dance. I found dancing when I was 15, but I started to appreciate it more when I began to watch others dance so beautifully.

I saw how you could tell such beautiful stories through movement and I told myself, “I want to do that! I want to inspire others like that!”. Because of this, I began to work more on my dancing and I finally started choreographing routines. Regarding dance, I recall the first moment I truly felt pride in what I was doing. It was the ancient time of 2017, where I partook in a competition with my dance group, and I was put in the solo round first, with my other friend.

I remember being so nervous about dancing in front of the other teams and qualified judges! But, as soon as I started freestyling, I didn’t care that people were watching me, I didn’t care about how people viewed my dancing, I was just enjoying myself and being confident in what I was doing. I came 4th out of 6th places, but despite where I placed in the competition, I felt so confident in what I showed to the audience. I felt like I was finally able to be myself. I was proud of what I had achieved. Whenever I dance, it shows me how amazing it feels to find your purpose, and it fills me with a strong sense of pride in the talent I have been given. Dance brings out the life in me and others, and every time I dance, I feel proud that I have brought happiness in others’ lives. 

I might not know where I stand in regards to my sexuality, but now? I know I am proud of how far I have come, how much better I know myself, being part of the dance community and inspiring others. To answer this question, pride means feeling empowered enough to empower other people, even if you haven’t got everything figured out yet. You might not know who you are, but you can embrace that uncertainty and feel proud of what you have already achieved. I feel like I am able to do that when I am dancing, I feel like I can communicate with others how I am truly feeling with my talent, and I feel like my identity is validated. 

Ella is a questioning writer and dancer who loves to perform for others and spends way too much time watching Avatar: The Last Airbender. Ella is an aspiring professional dancer. She is soon to study it at University and show just how talented she is capable of being. Ella loves to write poetry and stories and enjoys making others feel something through art. Support Ella by sending a few spare dollars on PayPal. YOu can also follow her on her personal and dancing Instagram accounts. Read more Pride Project 2020 and identity posts here.

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