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Pride POV: BE strong and BE proud

May 27, 2024 — 

Israel Agada (Jake) is a graduate of the University of Manitoba with a Master’s Degree in Language Education. He also has a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and Language Arts from the University of Ibadan. Israel is currently a Project Coordinator at the Office of Equity, Access, and Participation, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba.

My lived experiences over the years have shaped the essence of and my interpretation of Pride and the need for our community to BE strong and BE PROUD!

Growing up, I never quite felt like I fit in. I was always a little different, a little quieter and a little more curious. I didn’t know what it meant to be “different” until I realized my body was naturally metamorphosing accommodating its own unique biological features. This got me questioning my own existence, especially growing up in a society where sex and gender issues spark a lot of controversies. With this realization came worries and confusion. I was raised in a community where being Queer was seen as “wrong”, “sinful” and was “demonized”. I felt the need to hide, to deny and to adapt. I tried to fit in, to conform, and to be like everyone else. But the more I tried, the more I felt like I was living to fit in. It always echoes in my mind that “people fear or deject what they do not understand. People misconstrue what they aren’t properly aware of.”

As an intersex person of colour, I have seen ups, I have seen downs. I have seen onlookers mutter words in bewilderment – words that pass messages of unawareness or cluelessness.

I have seen friends slowly and abruptly distance themselves from me when information about me reaches them.

I have seen a well-built long-time relationship between “a queer” and “a straight” lover crumble because of cultural and societal standards that spell out what is and what isn’t.

I have seen it all! But I “REMAIN PROUD”

Through all of this, I have also seen myself overcoming the struggles that come with living as an intersex person. I believe that I do not have to deny my existence by disaffirming the truths behind my intersecting identities.

I have seen my family, friends, my Spiritual, the Pride, and my work communities loving and accepting me, for me. I have seen the 2SLGBTQIA+ community supporting one another for a just course. Once I started connecting with the Pride community, everything made sense – the feelings I had, the thoughts I thought and the secrets I kept.

Seeing other people like me, bold and proud, was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. And today, I urge us all to BE PROUD and celebrate Pride not just during Pride Month (June), but all year long.

I hope to see our society thoroughly sensitized and educated about the beauty, biology and truth ingrained in queer individuals. I hope to see society willingly embrace dialogue and freely empathize (and not sympathize) with our community.

Pride to me is a powerful tool for blurring the boundaries within our community through strong allyship. I wish to see this as a step that will re-envision the situation where only family members and a few friends of 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals are in support of the community. It should go beyond that, and be far and wide reaching to all nooks and crannies of society, touching every heart.

Pride isn’t just a celebration – it is a declaration of our existence. It is a reminder that we are here, we are queer and we are proud. We should no longer hide in the shadows for being harmless unique biological beings.

Winnipeg’s Pride Week and Pride Month provide moments for deep reflection. It’s a reminder that our identities are valid, our love is real and our lives are precious. It’s a declaration that we will humbly represent our rights, our visibility and our humanity.

So, this Pride Month and beyond, let’s BE PROUD, honour our past, embrace our present and shape our future with love, courage and Pride.

Register to participate with UM at the Pride Winnipeg Parade on Sunday, June 2. 

Note: T-shirts will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis until supplies last. 

For details about all other Pride events visit the 2SLGBTQ+ Community webpage


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