The Light Of The Room: Pride In A Conservative School

When people hear about the school I come from, I am usually asked any of  the following: “What school is that?” “Isn’t everyone there really rich?” “Are you guys run by priests?”

But where I come from is much more than that.

To say the least, we are trained to be critical thinkers, decisive action-takers, and all-around learners. But above of all, we are trained to be humanists; to discover and to be who we really are: human beings capable of love, goodness, and growth. Growing, always growing.

But where does Pride fit into all this? This is coming from the perspective of a straight person, so I will be talking about a friend of mine.

I had a blockmate who had just come out about being gay at the beginning of college. Let’s call him John (his name isn’t actually John). Since we were Humanities majors in a conservative school, I admit that I was pretty scared that he would get picked on by some of our close-minded, uptight, and very gray professors.

But John wasn’t one to randomly toot his trumpet about being gay; he was obviously the gayest person in the room, but he talked about anything and everything, too. But what really shocked me was that he was never defensive or butt-hurt about conservative concepts that seemed to blot out all possibilities of Pride, or at the very most implied that being gay meant burning in Hell. Instead, John would question these conservative concepts peacefully and civilly, always in a spirit of genuine curiosity and discovery. Surprisingly enough, none of our professors picked on him. They could probably see that all he really wanted was to learn more about himself and being a person.

And there was no one else like John. He was flamboyant, stylish, and hilarious: he effortlessly drew the attention of everyone around him. But more than all of these, the one thing I will never forget about John was that he was so kind to those who needed it.

How is pride celebrated elsewhere in the world? Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Before anything else, we have to distinguish between being nice and being kind. Don’t get me wrong, John was just as savage as the next guy. He could be nice in the sense that he seemed friendly enough even if he didn’t like the person he was talking to. But it takes real guts to be kind: and when it came to actually doing something to help other people, John was always the first one to do it without having to say anything flowery. We weren’t the closest, but when I was sad he would ask me if I was okay; when he was assigned to report on a certain topic, he was always ready and willing to answer my questions; and when I spilled lemonade all over my laptop during class time, Juan stood up and helped me mop the whole mess up while everyone else merely stared and gasped, mouth agape, “Oh no!” It’s these little things we find everyday that help us discover who people really are.

Some of the people in my school can go on and on about ideas and theories. But John was all about practice: in our third year, he began to be active volunteer of a leadership program which implemented sustainable solutions for indigent communities. He still volunteers today and he wants to for the rest of his life. In truth, John is more human than an number of gray professors combined: while they can be locked up in their theory towers, John embodies an open mind, action, service, and change.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

As our school has taught us to discover and to be who we really are, John was and is exactly that: utterly himself, the light of any room. Pride, from what John has taught me, is all about wearing your heart on your sleeve and being who you really are, while helping other people be who they really are, too. More than all the pizzazz, more than all the quirks, Pride is about being real.