Help select the winner of PERSAD's favorite ally contest
THE CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. THANK YOU FOR VOTING.
In this season of Pride, PERSAD decided to acknowledge and thank the allies in our community; the people who show love, leadership and support to LGBTQ people. We launched the “My Pride Story” contest in April, inviting members of the LGBTQ community to tell us about an ally they are proud of. The six finalists are posted below and we're inviting you to vote for your favorite inspirational story. The winning writer will receive $100 and their ally will receive $500. Read the stories and vote below, or join us for Pride Fest on Sunday, June 16 and cast your vote at the PERSAD booth.
PRIDE STORY #1: My Ally Lisa Duncan, by Matt Arch
“Matthew, are you gay? So what, I have known since you were like 8.” The words uttered by my mom on a weekend visit home during my junior year of college. I was 21 at the time, and struggling to sit there on my childhood couch to honestly share this secret. Well, I quickly learned it was not a secret, but more of a ‘sigh of relief’ felt from around both friends and family. Foreshadowing back to my childhood, my mom and I would listen to “The Bodyguard” soundtrack and Wilson Phillips cassettes during every car ride throughout the city. These timeless moments had us thinking we could actually sing and were the president of each other’s fan club. Never alone growing up, I suffered from depression and anxiety in middle school. My mother supportively sought mental health counseling for my well-being. Thank you mom for being YOU!
PRIDE STORY #2: My Ally Caiden Fratangelo, by Carly Ann Hicks
Dating a trans-identified person can be a really complicated and exhausting when your relationship is constantly being questioned by others. Almost immediately after meeting Caiden, I fell head-over-heals for him. The trans community needs more allies, and I have certainly become one of their biggest advocates, but what people don’t often see is how much of an ally Caiden has been to me. As everything started to fall into place for him with his transition, I started questioning my own identity. I struggled, and still, Caiden stood by me. Now as I stand solid in the belief that my dating preferences are my own, Caiden should be recognized for giving me the strength to be where I am today. Although we’ve had our ups and downs, he has constantly been my leading ally – a transman and the biggest ally a lesbian could ever dream of.
PRIDE STORY #3: My Ally Frank McNutt III, by Brian Rice
Eight years ago, I came to The Neighborhood Academy as a young boy who was very shy and silent. I felt unnoticeable, a social outcast, and an enabler of silence. I felt like I was uncomfortable everywhere I went in this school. The only place I felt safe was at home, in my room, by myself. Even in summer academy, I felt alone and fearful. After spending 3 weeks in the summer academy I felt relieved. In my eighth grade year, I felt like social outcast because I did not want to come out of my shell. In my ninth grade year, I felt like I was growing and almost becoming an upperclassman. In my 10th grade year, I was only hallway there to SENIOR year and felt like I had all the time in the world. In my 11th grade year, it was my first time coming out to my friends at school. Some people were okay with it, some were not. I just thought it was whatever. In my SENIOR year, I was very happy to be a senior in high school. As soon as I graduated from The Neighborhood Academy, it was the end of my five year journey. I said to myself, “I am a gay man that is moving forward with my life and I am ready to face the world”.
PRIDE STORY #4: My Ally Marilyn Rhodes, by Eric Rhodes
When I came out to Marilyn, I had no idea how she would react. “Why would you choose to live such a difficult life?” she asked. “It’s not a choice. When did you choose to be straight?” I replied. Marilyn was initially concerned about my overall wellbeing. Flash forward eight years to my wedding day and Marilyn was one of the few people I invited. She had since transformed into my biggest cheerleader, a loving presence to my partner, and the most important person to witness me getting married. That day, she asked me if she could walk me down the aisle. “Of course!” I responded, elated. What I realized at that moment that I couldn’t have known when I first came out to her was that Marilyn was not only my mom, but also my favorite ally, someone who had loved me unconditionally since the day I was born.
PRIDE STORY #5: My Ally Ryan Kunkle, by Jo Tauber
From the moment we became friends, Ryan has been an avid supporter of LGBTQ rights. He joined the Gay/Straight Alliance at Pitt-Greensburg while I was president, and of all the members, he was most eager to help sit at booths, plan events, and educate others. Despite being a young straight man in a fairly close-minded community, he never hesitates to politely and intelligently put a stop to bullying and intolerance, even within his group of friends and his family. He doesn’t just tell them to stop, he tries to explain why it’s wrong. Ryan is always there, always supporting his LGBTQ friends, and his quiet dedication to us and our rights absolutely means the world to us. Knowing there are genuinely good people in the world, like Ryan, makes me feel like everything is going to be okay.
PRIDE STORY #6: My Ally Suzanne Weessies, by Doug West
There are lots of people who have inspired me as a gay man. However nobody has like Suzanne Weessies. I have known Suzanne for close to seven years and I have seen her attend gay pride events, volunteer with GLENDA and stand up for gay teens. But her compassion and support with our transgendered friends inspires me the most. In her current position as Outreach Specialist for a health insurer, she has been working with transgendered individuals to gain health insurance and access to health care. As I write this nomination, Suzanne is in Cleveland supporting a mutual friend who is having a mastectomy as part of his transition to a male. Suzanne’s compassion and kindness is a true representation of what the LGBTQ community needs in order to continue the fight for equality. Her dedication really inspires myself and others to do good things.
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