Aaron Rhodes runs The Rhodes Bros YouTube channel with his brother, Austin
Sometimes, when I think about where I am in life, I get pretty emotional. To think back 10 years ago, as a young kid struggling with his sexuality. Now I'm writing this, and there is definitely a sense of pride that comes with it. I remember hiding in my room and looking up all things gay and thinking to myself that I would never be able to be a part of it. I thought I would never attend a Pride parade, or bring a boy home to my family, or talk openly about my sexuality, or even get married someday. All of these missed opportunities taunted me on a daily basis, because I felt so suppressed. I wish I could go back in time and give myself a strong hug. I wish I could let myself know that, with time, all of those things would come true. That is what pride means to me. After everything I have been through, I can now be completely myself, and that is something I'm extremely proud of.
Two years ago, I remember driving up to the Supreme Court of the United States. It wasn't just going to be a historic moment for this country, but a historic moment in my life. I remember crowds of cheering people, rainbow flags, and signs of encouragement thrown in the air. Looking back, that was the day I felt true liberation and most proud to be who I am. I stood on those steps while nationwide marriage equality was announced. That's when it finally clicked: I stood there in anticipation with the people I love, and we talked about how far we've come in the LGBTQ+ community. I had made it. I had made it to a place of peace and confidence. I was surrounded by people just like me, and that was something I never thought would happen. When it was finally announced that the court decided in our favour, the crowd erupted with pride. People were crying, holding each other, calling their loved ones, holding those flags as high as they could. It was truly a beautiful moment I will never forget.
Just know, there is a community of people waiting for you willing to show you nothing but love and compassion.
My hope moving forward is to encourage people that they too can have that moment. It can take time, and everyone has their own journey, but if you just hold on tight and stay true to yourself, you will make it. It may seem far off now, but suddenly you will find yourself defining pride in your own way. Just know, there is a community of people waiting for you willing to show you nothing but love and compassion.
That young boy struggling with his sexuality would have never thought that, but here I am writing this. Here I am defining what pride is to me. I've been to parades, I am confident with my sexuality, and someday I will marry the man of my dreams. I know people have said this a million times, but I promise you it will get better. Stay strong, be yourself, and love unconditionally.