Pride Is Valid No Matter How One Celebrates or Experiences It

In honor of Pride Month, #MEAction is sharing a heartfelt message from our board member, Jennifer England, about what Pride means to her and her wife who lives with severe ME.

My wife and I have both been queer our whole lives, but in the 70s that was the quiet part you didn’t say out loud. Her from a conservative catholic background and me, an inveterate people pleaser, it was easier to go with the expected norm. The pandemic hit just as she was declining into severe ME. Those were terrible, dark days for us, full of uncertainty, confusion and doctor after doctor not listening, not HEARING the reality of her lived experience. Locked in a too small house together, afraid of what was happening outside our door and inside her body, it just became apparent that we were all we had. What else could we do but realize that it was time for us to both be fully ourselves. She began her transition and it was the bright spot of joy in our life at a very dark time.

two white woman looking at the camera, both wearing glasses. One has a pink beanine on and the other earrings.
Board Member, Jennifer England, on the right with her wife Jayne Kleissler on the left

Pride month is a bittersweet month for us. We are proud to be ourselves, to outwardly join the community of which we’ve always been a part, but we do it from home. No pride parades, or queer bars, or gay proms for us. We continue with our Sunday queer movie night, as we have all year, but usher it in with champagne and pride glasses. We fly our flags, both real and metaphorical, with pride but we are our only audience. As with all things, severe ME means we have to redefine everything, from wins to goals to joy. But we do it. And every June we are reminded that for many in our generation (and those before us) It wasn’t severe ME that kept our true selves home bound, it was prejudice, bigotry and hate. So while we are forced to keep our pride literally quiet (hello noise sensitivity!) we CAN be out and loud(ish) and proud to friends, family and especially online with our ME community and beyond. And in doing so we found that many of our friends in the ME online community have similar stories. Especially (but not only) during Pride we must remember and acknowledge that the LGBTQ+ community overlaps with every other community and Pride is valid no matter how one celebrates or experiences it.

#MEAction is honored to recognize Pride Month! Everyone should have the opportunity to show up as their most authentic selves & love who they love. Pride is not only a celebration but it’s also a reminder we must take action for change to occur. For equality mustn’t exist only for some, it must be for everyone! And as Jennifer so eloquently writes, Pride is valid no matter how one celebrates or experiences it


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