June. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and if things seem a little gayer than usual, that’s because it’s Pride Month.

For the first time in 8 years, the White House has failed to acknowledge June as Pride Month, but what else could I expect from a man who is only one color of the rainbow — orange. In a world where LGBTQ+ rights are constantly under threat by the current administration, members of the gay community have a more important task than ever: being loud and proud.

To me, June holds a very special place in my heart. Not only is it my birthday month (shout out to all the Gemini), but I will never forget where I was when I found out same sex marriage was legalized in California. It was a hot summer day, June 16, 2008 to be exact, and I was driving on the freeway when my phone started blowing up with Twitter notifications. I was so happy I immediately drove to the nearest In-N-Out and ordered a double double to celebrate. Although I was not out at the time, I had never been so proud of our government for finally taking a step in the right direction.

Pride Month is so important to the LGBTQ+ community for so many reasons. It reminds us of the courageous trailblazers before us who have paved the way for our generation to be as accepting as it is. This month brings us together in a way I have never seen before in my life. I had it so easy when I came out. All of my friends and family were so amazing and supportive every step of the way, but I know not everyone has been as privileged as me. Pride Month is a time where everyone supports one another and truly comes together as a community. There’s a saying in the gay community that we don’t get to chose our family, so we make our own. To me, that’s the true spirit of Pride Month.

Every year in the month of June, people the world over celebrate their pride of being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer. This year, Billboard Magazine published letters of love and acceptance from influential members of the LGBT community such as RuPaul and Elton John, along with allies.

One such letter was that of pop icon Britney Spears, which actually brought me to tears: “This is my letter of love to all my LGBTQ fans. Continuously throughout my career, you’ve always been so vocal about what a positive impact I’ve had on you — that I’ve instilled joy, hope and love in you at times when there was none. That my music is an inspiration. That my story gives you hope. But I have a secret to share with you. You see, it’s actually you that lifts me up. The unwavering loyalty. the lack of judgment. The unapologetic truth. Acceptance! Your stories are what inspire me, bring me joy and make me and my sons strive to be better people. I love you. – Britney” Spears said in her hand written letter from Billboard.

Spears has always been someone I have looked up to, not only for her talent and charm (I’ve made the trek to see her Vegas residency several times now), but for how she has overcome her mental illness and come back stronger than ever. In high school, I remember spending so many nights alone in my room watching her music videos and re enacting her choreography in the mirror. Her music was always there for me as an escape and continues to be the soundtrack to my life.

To everyone who is out, I just want you to know how proud I am of you. To everyone scared to come out, take your time. It took me 21 years, but it was the best decision of my life. It felt like I could breathe for the first time and I could finally start living. To those of you questioning your sexuality, I’m single, hit me up.

On a more serious note, if there is anyone out there struggling with their sexuality, whether it be an unsafe home environment, bullying, or you just need someone to talk to, The Trevor Project is a great resource.

Pride Month is just getting started. To find an event near you, click here.

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