A Dose of Pride: Madison Mason


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A Dose of Pride: The Iowa State Daily’s Pride Month series throughout June.

Madison Mason

When thinking about moments of Pride, whether it be during Pride Month or not, I’m always thinking of times in which acceptance and education are at the forefront of the situation. Moments of Pride, to me, are represented by safe and brave spaces for me to be who I am, regardless of my identities.

I could tell you about times when I was in high school and I led my student gender and sexuality alliance, or how I currently lead Iowa State’s Pride Alliance. I could tell you about how I’ve gone to the “biggest gay conference” in the Midwest, or how I’ve never missed a Pride fest in the last four years. I could tell you about the Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success, or about the Sloss Center for Women and Gender Equity at Iowa State. Or I could even tell you about my experiences of sneaking into queer bars to watch drag shows. However, when thinking about moments of Pride, there is only one moment, or rather, a series of moments, that comes to mind.

So, when I first started questioning my sexual orientation, I was around maybe 14 or so, and I knew I didn’t just like men-identifying folx. I was also attracted to women- and femme-identifying folx and anyone who identified within and outside of the binary. So, after this initial questioning period, I started on a long road of finding a label that fit me and what described me best.

I started my journey off with the label of bisexuality, but I was also exploring the concept and spectrum of asexuality. But, after some research, neither of those terms seemed to fit me. So I was off again, floating for a new label, until I came across the term pansexual.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, all of this spotlight on coming to terms with your pansexual identity? Not quite.

I sat with the pansexual label for a while — I mean, it covered all of my bases. I am indeed attracted to any gender or any individuals who lack gender, regardless of their gender identity, and based more-so on their personality and aura, which is all encompassed in the pansexuality label.

However, I’ve never been one for labels. I’m someone who thinks sexuality is fluid and gender is a construct. And the idea of a label, specifically the pansexual label, became a negative focal point for me. I grew to hate the term for myself, but I kept it because people are nosy and they like labels.

And I went on like this, for YEARS, and I mean YEARS. It wasn’t until I started college in the fall of 2019 that I started to explore the queer community further. I mean, for most of my life, I just knew the acronym to be LGBT+, and that was it. So when I started college and met more people within the LGBTQIA+ community, I came across the term “queer.”

Now, originally, this term was used as a slur in order harm LGBTQIA+ folx and their identities. However, in recent years, it has been reclaimed as not only a term used to describe the community as a whole but a term that gained its own place as the “Q” in the LGBTQIA+ acronym.

After some research, I found that “queer” can be used as an umbrella term for someone within the LGBTQIA+ community who doesn’t identify with a specific sexual orientation term. And I kid you not, I had a light bulb moment.

For a majority of my life, I have spent it hating myself, and a byproduct of that has been time spent hating sexual orientation terms that have never felt right. So when I could finally call myself “queer” — I have never felt more Pride than in that moment.

The LGBTQIA+ community is set up for you to find your personal identities and labels, and I have never felt more safe and brave than I did finding out a piece of who I am, via a simple label — I felt whole for the first time in my life.

So, like I said, moments of Pride, in my opinion, come from acceptance and education opportunities. I found my moment of Pride by researching, learning, accepting myself and having a safe and brave space to do so.

I’m a proud queer person, and I hold that identity with Pride.