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“PRIDE means LOVE”: Poem by Xesenia Maurice

By Xesenia Maurice

Maybe it’s cliché to say
A phrase so simple
That can run so deep
Like the currents in our body
As we navigate how to exist, live, and be in this world.
A phrase so many have fought for
And continue to fight for.
A phrase that has seen children kicked out of homes
When they needed their parents the most,
A phrase that has seen people find a chosen family
And a new place to call home.
PRIDE and LOVE are intertwined
Like the embrace of a hug
Like holding hands
Like bodies on the dance floor.
Love is loving yourself enough to accept and
See the beauty of who you are.
Pride is loving yourself enough to advocate
For yourself, your freedom, and your expression.

I share this poem because to me PRIDE is poetic. My story is very intertwined within the LGBTQIA+ community. When I was nine, my father came out to me as gay. I didn’t know what it meant and because he looked so afraid I became worried. Then he said, “it’s when a boy likes another boy,” and I gave a sigh of relief and said, “oh, ok well that’s no big deal.”

After coming out, my father dedicated himself to advocacy and education. He showed me the beauty and importance of diversity, culture, kindness, respect, and acceptance. He also taught me to stand up for others as well, and I carried that last one with me into middle school and high school, whenever I witnessed friends getting bullied.

When I was in high school, my father and I began to focus on advocating for LGBTQIA+ adoption rights, specifically within the Latinx community. We did interviews about our relationship and how my dad has raised me, and I would always tell reporters that being gay didn’t hinder my dad’s ability to raise me, but that his experiences of being discriminated against, hated, and misunderstood led him to raise me with love and compassion.

When I entered college, I remember being asked to go on television with my father to discuss adoption rights, and I found myself being nervous this time, because I didn’t like how the media was really focusing on whether if my dad being gay would cause a child to grow up gay. I never correlate my sexuality or preferences with that of my father. When it comes to my gender, my sexuality, and how I express it, that’s all me.

I remember being asked by the TV host if I was gay or straight, and instead of saying “yes,” I decided to respond with, “What should matter when it comes to adoption rights is whether I felt I was raised by loving and caring parents, and I have been. I’m in a safe home, I can talk to my dad about anything, and I’m a great student because my father raised me that way.”

I share this story to you all because when I think about Pride, I think about my father and his advocacy and the way he loves the world. I love everyone, regardless of who they are, because my love has no limits, and because love is so needed. Love is a word I try to say as much as I can, and I love myself and my fellow queer folks because to walk in this world authentically is the most powerful and beautiful thing there is.

Xesenia Maurice is a member of Public Allies Los Angeles.

This piece is part of Public Allies’ campaign to highlight voices of LGBTQ+ members, alumni, staff, and partners throughout Pride Month.