Elysa Razif is currently working towards her Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies: Economics and Biogeological Science. She is a UBC Equity Ambassador.
What does Pride mean to you?
To me, pride means being and feeling fearless. Perhaps it’s because I felt so afraid of truly embracing all of myself for such a long time. My story begins in a very strict and religious community in a country that shall remain nameless – think southeast Asia.
“I felt so afraid of truly embracing myself for such a long time.”
As a kid, I was so unbelievably clueless to the existence of the LGBTQ+ community, that the terms and definitions we use today weren’t even a part of my vocabulary.
As a teenager, I realised how truly blessed I was to have a very liberal and understanding family. My mum told me that the most important thing is to be a good person, to treat other people with kindness. This mindset bled into my school life, when I was taught that gay people were dirty and their love was shameful. A part of me felt personally insulted; despite the fact that I didn’t think I was gay at the time. I just couldn’t accept it; I refused to believe that this God we were all supposed to believe in could be so hateful. Suffice to say, I wasn’t considered the best student in my religious studies class, but I don’t regret speaking up.
“I have to stand up for my beliefs and for myself, no matter how scary that can be sometimes.”
Pride means being fearless to me because of the friends I have that were never afraid to be themselves. They questioned themselves, fought with themselves and everyone else, and at the end of the day accepted themselves. They taught me that I have to stand up for my beliefs and for myself, no matter how scary that can be sometimes.
What impact has Pride had on you and your community?
Pride has helped me feel free. After moving to Vancouver, I have never felt so at ease with being a pansexual woman. I think that feeling stems from truly understanding what I am, and my role in the communities that I am a part of.
“Pride has helped me feel free.”
No matter how different our ideologies may be, I am still a part of the community that I mentioned previously. Many of my friends and family also belong to that community and they love me for who I am, so I think that with time and understanding on both sides, it is possible for us to create a more accepting and singular community together.
“With time and understanding… it is possible for us to create a more accepting and singular community together.”
Pride has helped the members of the different communities I belong to figure out what they can do to help as allies. In all fairness, when you don’t feel like you belong in a conversation, it’s instinctive to just be silent. So, movements like Pride have helped to open up the conversation, bridge that gap, which separates “us” and “them”. As a group of people who know what it’s like to have been excluded for so long, we should embrace inclusivity and continue to prove that love is love and love is for everyone.
“Movements like Pride have helped to open up the conversation and bridge that gap which separates “us” and “them”.
How do you celebrate Pride?
This year, I will be celebrating my first Pride! I’ve spent the better part of the last five years of my life coming to terms with the fact that I am pansexual, and within those five years, I’ve spent the last two coming out to my closest friends and family.
“I’ll be decked out in some of my best rainbow gear.”
Finally, I feel like I’m ready to stop worrying, and I’m ready to just go out and celebrate! I plan on watching the parade with friends and my little brother. I’ll be decked out in some of my best rainbow gear, which is a big deal in and of itself considering I’ve been known to dress exclusively in all black, even in the summer.