Pride Month: How one NWSL story affirmed the harsh truth of coming out 

A rainbow corner flag is seen prior to the Sky Bet League One match between Plymouth Argyle and Wigan Athletic on November 27, 2021. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

What is your identity rooted in? That’s an often pondered question as we try to define ourselves in life.

I look at my job, hobbies, religion, and sport. Those aspects of my life are where I find my identity flourishes the most. But questioning the root identity is more complex when you peel back the layers that make us who we are. Especially if others view you differently.

A call for year-round support

June is Pride Month in the United States. But like other diversity heritage months, why does it have to be one month?

We celebrate those who have little to no voice in our world today. Companies and large corporations buy in on Pride celebrations — linking hand-in-hand, exclaiming that love is love and there are no labels. Then, once the month is over, the lack of allegiance returns to the forefront.

They never once thought about how those individuals might feel because they don’t view their day-to-day operations through the lens of a minority. What we forget is that we are all human, and this is the everyday struggle someone in the LGBTQ+ community faces. 

San Diego making new waves in Pride Month celebrations

The NWSL has special nights and uniforms to show their support of Pride Nights, along with the recent change in the corner flags to show the rainbow flag as a symbol of inclusion. Something different this year is that one club, San Diego Wave FC, has decided to feature several players giving a quick minute or minute-and-a-half segment video of what Pride means to them and how the importance of unity within a community plays a huge role. 

Christen Westphal was the first video that was released to kickstart Pride Month. She spoke about what Pride means to her but in a different light than one might expect. Just because you came out does not mean the struggle is over. The battle is not won.

Over the years, people from the LGBTQ+ community have not only had physical, emotional, and mental trauma linked to coming out but religious trauma. This is what Christen reminds viewers that coming out is not the biggest obstacle; it’s just one of many. 

The importance of showing up as yourself

Christen states the community around her has given her more assurance to use her voice and feel comfortable in her skin. 

This statement struck a chord with me. Feeling comfortable in one’s skin is pivotal in our ever-changing process of self-discovery. If you do not feel comfortable being who you are, what do you do? We all want to be our true authentic selves, but that comes with a price many people in the LGBTQ+ community have experienced.

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It has taken me 23 years to feel comfortable in my skin. The mental toll of trying to be someone who isn’t you is taxing but also paralyzing. Even now, the ever-changing time of self-discovery throws you multiple curve balls.

But the one thing that has remained is the community — helping me get to where I feel comfortable being myself. This community has taken multiple shapes over the last year, but those around me now have allowed me to feel what Christen does, “allowing me to breathe fully into who I am and show up as myself.”

Bravery is contagious with the right support

For several months, the legislative process in America has been passing bills or laws, putting this country in a backward mindset. Don’t Say Gay and the refusal of transgender health care are prime examples of why it is needed for people in the LBGTQ+ community to have more of these testimonies published. Not just during Pride Month but regularly having reminders that courage is not a straight line. 

So, what is your true identity? My hope during this Pride Month is that readers alike can take a moment to ponder this question, celebrate those living their lives in their skin, and encourage those around them not to be afraid to be who they truly are.

Visit Christen Westphal and Maddie Pogarch’s Pride Month Fundraiser on GoFundMe to make a monetary donation towards The Trevor Project. All proceeds will benefit youth in the LGBTQ+ community.

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