Pride in pictures

Pride in Pictures: Why I volunteer

Pride in Pictures, PFLAG
Photo: Jonathan Gaul

For our second annual Pride in Pictures, LGBTQ Nation asked readers to submit a meaningful photo of themselves at Pride.

We have absolutely loved seeing your joy, your glitter, your fabulous outfits, and of course, your pride. Now, we’re spending the summer sharing some of our favorite photos and stories with all of you.

Related: Pride in Pictures: Discovering “a whole new world”

Name: 

Steve Von Steenburg

Location:

Pride in Asbury Park, NJ, 2019

What makes this photo special to you?

I (second from right) am a volunteer with PFLAG Jersey Shore, I have been volunteering for five years now. My best friend William Placek (far right) introduced me to the organization. He was the Vice President of the Jersey Shore chapter at the time. Now he is the President of the chapter & also the Regional Director for N.Y., N.J.  and P.A.

At first I was like, “I came out at 14, no issues, very accepting family. Why do I need to go to a PFLAG meeting?” But with Will’s convincing, I went to a meeting with him to check it out. At that first meeting they had a mom and dad with their transgender son sitting in a car in the parking lot, too scared and upset to even come inside. The facilitators of that meeting went outside and talked to them in their car, eventually convincing them all to join everyone else inside.

By the time the meeting was over tears had been replaced with smiles, worries had been replaced with laughter, and a family torn apart by fear and anxiety were on their way to becoming a loving accepting set of parents and a son who could finally be his true self. It was amazing!

That’s why I volunteer. Being a member of the LGBTQ+ community, you come to know many people who have been disowned by their families, and people who have had to walk away from their families so they can live authentically. Too many LGBTQ+ individuals live in fear of rejection, ridicule, or fear for their own safety at home. I’ve seen PFLAG change that for so many.

When I March each year, alongside my parents and family (biological & chosen), the overpowering sense of PRIDE I am filled with me brings me to tears. The cheers and applause from onlookers when they see parents & family marching side by side with their LGBTQ+ loved ones is deafening. Each year we grow bigger and bigger, so does the PRIDE I feel, the PRIDE I feel for my family, for PFLAG Jersey Shore, my community, and the PRIDE I feel in myself.

Pride in Pictures, PFLAG
Jonathan Gaul

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