The Pride Behind Pride

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June 8, 2023

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John McClain is an accomplished interior designer, speaker, writer, and on-air contributor who has turned his lifetime passion for interior design into an opportunity to do the same for others.

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It’s June and that means¬†summer vacations, nights on the porch, and celebrations of PRIDE! As anyone who remotely knows me might know, I am proud to be an out gay man – married to the love of my life since it became legal in 2015, and together for 21 years. So, when I say I have a lot to be proud of, I truly do.

I have beautiful homes, wonderful spouse, loving friends, a supportive family, talented and devoted work team, and multiple thriving businesses. I AM proud. Proud of my accomplishments and proud of being who I am. It wasn’t easy to get to this point of success in life and business, but today, I can solidly stand on the pillars that have supported and lifted me to where I am.

This isn’t a blog post about bragging about my accomplishments, but rather, one to let you know that you too can be proud of who you are, just where you are right now. I know firsthand that life is about learning, growth, acceptance, and pivots. Some things works, some don’t. Some people will like you, some won’t. And all of that is ok.

There is no direct path to success or happiness, and there is not distinct definition of either term. The definition of each is truly up to you. Society will tell us that we have to accomplish x, y, and z before we can call ourselves a success. OR that we have to have full acceptance from all of those around us to truly have a great personal life. I am here to let you know, unabashedly, that those are not true.

Case in point:
At our 2015 wedding, my husband and I invited all that we thought would want to be a part of it. We quickly learned that some did NOT want to be a part of it, some of those being very close family members. While this was a hard pill to swallow, the medicine was taken and we soon realized that the people who WANTED to be at our wedding were there, and that’s all that mattered.

The point is, everyone is not going to accept you, whether you’re gay, overweight, outspoken, meek, trans, socially awkward, physically challenged, short, tall, skinny, man, woman, or child… the pill you have to swallow is the people who DO accept you, and value you, and cherish your love, and give you love back… will far surpass a million of those other people that we feel we need to collect in our bag of friends or family.

I have also learned that my definition of success is not the same as others, and I want you to think about this too. I plan to write an entire post about this subject soon, but for now, I want you to be as proud of where you are right now as I am. You have gotten this far in life and no matter what your peers might label as success, I can promise you, if you sit down and make a list of what you have to be thankful and proud of, that list will turn into a list of successes too. Bottom line: your success is just that: YOUR SUCCESS.

As a gay man, I have fought my entire life to either 1) Hide who I was to “fit in” or 2) Fought to find my spot in this world as my authentic self. As a child, I would answer the phone and the person on the other end would sometimes say, ” Hi little girl, can I speak to your mommy?” I would then try to “butch it up” and deepen my voice when the phone rang the next time, to be someone that I was not.

My husband and I love theme parks, since the day we met. From Universal to Disney, we have done them all multiple times! We cherish these times together and are truly at our happiest in these magical places. However, during these happy times, early on, we didn’t always feel accepted or safe, so if a special event occurred, or we just felt the need to show a tender moment, we were timid to do so in public. So, instead of a simple, harmless kiss that we thought might offend total strangers who really have no impact on our lives whatsoever, we would blow a puff of air in each other’s face as “our kiss.”

Thinking back on this now, it makes me both happy and sad. Sad that we let other people steal a tender moment but happy that the moment happened at all. Fast forward to today and I dare anyone to tell me that I cannot kiss my husband in public. Love is to be celebrated! Love is something to be proud of!

Love is rare, beautiful, and precious.
I AM PROUD.

As I wrap up, one last note for those who ask why we need an entire month to celebrate PRIDE? To them I say this: When you spend half of your life repressed, hiding your true self, and pretending to fit in with the rest of the world, 30 days of celebrating the fact that you can now be your authentic self is not a lot to ask.

Most of the population can be who they are without repercussions 12 months out of the year; so for one month, around the world, at various times, the LGBTQ+ community joins together to show love, compassion, celebrate love and life in a harmless way that does not affect anyone who does not want to participate. It feels good. We feel accepted. We feel loved. We feel unjudged. We feel like just like you feel…every other month of the year.

HAPPY PRIDE MY FRIENDS!

Thank you for your love and support, now & always,

John

PS For ways to support the LGBTQ+ community, visit the Human Rights Campaign

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