In my Samoan culture, one of life\'s most celebrated milestones is marriage. Growing up in Samoa, I remember all the weddings were filled with huge guest lists of friends and extended family members, some of whom travel thousands of miles home just to attend. Weddings are anticipated with great excitement! Vows are typically exchanged between the couple in a church, followed by a day of celebration with friends and family, sometimes the entire village! This is not that different from the weddings I have attended in other cultures. It is always a day filled with love, well wishes, and blessings from others.
Ashleigh and I got married in a small intimate ceremony in our backyard in Lanikai. It was a day filled with love and joy and we were surrounded by some of our closest loved ones. However, leading up to this day was incredibly sad and disappointing. At the time, I was either not communicating with my parents or fighting with them constantly. I received phone calls from family members, people who I loved and who I looked up to, telling me I was defying God, living in sin and making a mistake. I was told I wouldn\'t be blessed in my marriage and that it would never be considered a marriage. There were no phone calls or cards or gifts of love from some people who I thought were in my corner. It surprised me how much religion dictated their ideals and beliefs. It wasn\'t enough that I supported them in their achievements and milestones, loved them for who they were and embraced who they loved. If you are happy and you are loved, who could disagree with that... So, every June, I celebrate #pride because everyone needs a tribe to celebrate their milestones with and who love them for who they are. Visibility absolutely matters! Whether on social media or in one\'s own communities, seeing examples of people who live with love at the forefront of their lives is important. It\'s important for those who aren\'t out, those who recently came out and those of us who are out loud and proud.