Pride has the power to create change—in ourselves, our communities, and our world. As Family Equality works to ensure that everyone has the freedom to choose & experience their pride + joy on National Coming Out Day (and every day), outspoken advocate and friend of Family Equality, Weston Charles-Gallo, shares what pride looks like for him.
Many of you know that June is National Pride Month. But we should embrace who we are every day. Pride is about so much more than thirty days in June. It is all about dedication, blood, sweat, and tears. It is contributing to something much larger than oneself. It is the death of Matthew Sheppard. It is the riots at Stonewall. It was the efforts of Marsha P Johnson, fighting for the rights of her trans brothers and sisters. It is all the events and people before me that allow me to be PRIDEFUL and to understand that authenticity is key.
For everyone, “pride” means something different. Not all of us share the same stories or experiences. But what I would like to think is that each and every one of us wants rights and equality for all. Festivals, parades, and other events unite the LGBTQ+ community in celebration, honoring all of the efforts we make to live an authentic life every day. Through being yourself, you are contributing to a movement that centers on standing up for what you believe in. You embrace the person you are, no matter the hatred you might be facing. Iconic superstar Lady Gaga herself once said “No matter gay, straight, or bi, lesbian, transgender life. I’m on the right track, baby. I was born to survive.”
I know for myself, at a young age I appeared different from the rest of the boys in my class, but I never could figure out why. When I was younger I often found myself playing with my sister’s Barbies or in my mom’s closet wearing her heels when she’d be at work. Just like many others that are LGBTQ+, I came from a very religious family. We went to church every Sunday. I attended a youth group on Wednesday, and my dad was even the Deacon of our church. The fact that I was gay was something I had to keep to myself because I knew how I would be treated.
Before I came out, I’m positive my dad already had a clue that I was gay. I’m sure my mom knew too but was scared to have the conversation with him. He would often say, “You’re not like my other boys.” Or “If you ever tell me you are gay, be ready. I’ll beat it out of you.” If feeling like an outcast at my church wasn’t enough, I had no support at home either.
Education was always my outlet. It helped get my mind off what would happen at home. In summer 2014, I came out: a young, biracial flamboyant boy in the country. I lost many close friends. I was bullied, abused, neglected. I may have lost the ones I thought would love me unconditionally, but I never lost sight of who I was and the person I aspired to be.
Pride means so much to me because pride and willpower were all I had. I knew that after I shared this part of myself, I faced being alone and rejected by my family. It took me a while to find myself and understand how important my self-worth truly is but luckily, I was able to overcome adversity. I was adopted, and I graduated high school. All of these things I never thought would happen. Instead of being a percent of those in foster care not graduating high school and attending college, I ended up beating the odds. I’ll be attending college in the Fall.
Sometimes I’m asked, “Do you regret coming out at a young age? It could have saved you from going through everything.” And I always say: I don’t regret coming out, because the trials and tribulations I faced are a part of my journey. It has not only built my character but has shaped me for a better future. If anything, it has taught me to be proud of my colors and always know that I could shine bright, only if I allow myself to shine at all.
Weston Charles-Gallo (he, him, his) is 22 years old. He entered the foster care system at age 14 when his biological parents neglected him for identifying as gay. After hospitalizations, shelters, and foster home placements, he was in care for 1 year before he found his forever family with his two dads and six siblings. He is currently attending Pittsburg State University majoring in communications. An LGBTQ+ youth activist for foster care youth, he also highlights the importance for same-sex couples to foster and adopt and was a member of the Youth Speak Out Team in KCMO, which worked to raise awareness of the experiences of foster youth and the challenges they face. He worked alongside that team on a Bill of Rights for Foster Care Youth in the summer of 2017. Charles-Gallo was honored with the FosterClub Outstanding Young Leader Award for his continuous work advocating for LGBTQ+ young people in care. Weston now is a part of an advocacy leadership team working to pass the John Lewis Every Child Deserves A Family Act. In the future, he plans to work in political communication in DC on capitol hill, with a focus on LGBTQ+ and Foster Care Youth affairs before he runs for Congress.