June 15, 2022  Published by

Happy Pride from Dulcedo! We wanted to take this opportunity to speak to our Dulcedo family members, Anthony and Sophie, who are a part of the LBTQIA2S+ community to share their personal experiences and perspectives on why Pride is a powerful and important movement to help propel human rights. We humbly thank them both for being so open and generous with their time. This is a very special teaching moment for all of us!

Anthony Mannella, Influencer Talent Agent at Dulcedo

What does Pride mean to you? 

Pride is a celebration of life & inclusion. Pride invites and allows acceptance for everyone while supporting the progression of society. To me, Pride allows me to fully be who I am as a person. 

What progress have you witnessed personally in the equality movement over your lifetime? 

Although we’ve only scratched the surface in spreading equality, I have experienced progress. As an influencer agent, I’ve witnessed a major pivot in the media industry. Whether it’s TikTok, Instagram, or TV commercials, there is now a greater representation and promotion of diversity. If I were my younger self today, I would feel more comfortable and proud of being who I am earlier in life. Conversations are expanding, brands are welcoming, and perception is shifting. We get to be who we are with support, encouragement and ultimately, we are shown that we are no longer doing this alone. 

What progress do you think still needs to be made and how?

Although we have made great strides I feel that we still have work to do in the area of gender diversity and ensuring safe spaces exist in all aspects of society. The ultimate goal is for individuals to feel seen, safe, and included no matter where they are, whether it be at school, accessing health care or walking alone at night.

What do you feel is the biggest misconception about the LGBTQIA2S+ community?

That the community is a homogeneous group. We’re not. Individuals identify in a plethora of different ways, live a variety of different lifestyles. One size does not fit all.

What makes the LGBTQIA2S+ community, truly a community in your eyes?

I feel our collective shared experiences, along with a sense of understanding and connection support a sense of unity. Shared struggles often create bonds and a sense that we are all in it together.

Do you feel “it gets better” with time? Why or why not?

For me, yes, it got better with time. Especially once I surrounded myself with people who appreciated and valued who I truly was. I am grateful every day with the love I receive from my friends and family

What advice would you give to younger people who are struggling with their sexuality or self identity?

It is not worth hiding who you are to gain love or acceptance from others.  Be who you are born to be and live your truth, because in the end, it’s you who you have to live with.

In celebration of Pride, what are you most proud of in your life?

I am most proud of my resilience & living my truth! We spend so much time worrying about what others think of us, or trying to impress others, and the truth is, being true to being who you are is life’s greatest achievement.

Sophie Ciglen, Project Manager, at Dulcedo

What does Pride mean to you?

Pride is so multifaceted because it’s both a celebration and a protest rolled into one! I love being able to take to the streets and celebrate love and all the progress we’ve made, but there’s still so much work to be done. Calling in legislators to continue to push forward change is what Pride was originally about, and what it continues to be to this day. I’m grateful for Pride and how it’s become a moment and space where I can be surrounded by other queer people in solidarity and to celebrate queer joy. I’m grateful that I have the privilege to use my voice and march to demand change so we can further progress to become a society that’s unequivocally safe for the LGBTQIA2S+ community.

What progress have you witnessed personally in the equality movement over your lifetime?

Personally, one of the most significant progressions I’ve seen has been in media representation. When I was in elementary/high school, there were very few queer characters in any of the shows or movies I was watching, and the ones I did see were so stereotypically presented that I didn’t relate to them, so it took me way longer to figure out my identity than it’s taking kids now. I love how much representation has developed these last few years and how queer identity is becoming much more normalized. Childrens’ shows like Heartstopper and Julie and the Phantoms have taken the world by storm, and while there’s still a lot of work to be done, it’s encouraging to see kids watching these shows and thinking “wow, that looks like me, and they have a cool storyline!”

What progress do you think still needs to be made and how?

While the L and the G in LGBTQIA2S+ are becoming very highly represented, the other letters are still often left behind and misunderstood. Trans folks are disproportionately affected by legislations and bigotry, there is very little information available about asexuality and intersex people unless you go searching for it. Bisexual people are mistreated and misrepresented by pretty much everyone (both inside and outside of the queer community), and there is a war on pronouns going on where people refuse to address non-binary and Two-Spirit folks by their correct identifiers.

The common denominator between all of this is a lack of understanding, and many people will attack what they don’t understand. Incorporating queerness into Sex Ed classes is a major step, which is constantly being fought against (especially in the US). Voting in politicians whose platforms are actively inclusive (not just passively) is another important step. And of course, asking questions in a respectful way and doing research when you don’t understand something is the best way to learn, and then you can pass along that information to others! Yes, we’ve made a lot of progress, but as long as people are still being vilified and mistreated for who they are, we have a long way to go.

What do you feel is the biggest misconception about the LGBTQIA2S+ community?

I feel like a huge misconception that is still very prevalent (especially toward trans individuals) is that queer people are inherently predatory. In the US right now there are bills popping up that are limiting the right to bodily autonomy, and a lot of it is based around misconceptions and a refusal to learn differently, which is extremely frustrating, as well as just flat out dangerous. Queerness ≠ predatory any more than straightness does. Everyone just wants to love who they love in a consensual manner and should be allowed to do so!

What makes the LGBTQIA2S+ community, truly a community in your eyes?

There’s a sense of mutual understanding that can’t always be found in other groups – cis heterosexual people will never truly understand what it’s like to be ostracized for as little as holding hands with a partner of the same sex in public, and it’s okay that they don’t understand– they’re not expected to! But it’s really nice to be in community with people who have been there, who have faced struggles (whether similar or different), and have that shared experience that can be understood just with a look. The majority of my closest friends are queer, because we somehow just flock to each other (even before we knew we were queer)!

Do you feel “it gets better” with time? Why or why not?

Yes and no. Yes because when you’re able to be fully and authentically yourself, and be surrounded by people who love and care about you and embrace you for who you are, then of course life gets better in that regard! I personally was able to come into my own and grow so much as a person after coming out. I have a supportive family and an amazing friend group who encourage me as I continue through my journey, and I do not take that for granted.

However, that is a very privileged position to be in and unfortunately isn’t the case for a lot of people, both in North America and elsewhere. A lot of queer people will say things like “just come out – things will be so much better for you then and if your family doesn’t support you then forget them and leave!” And as much as I want to say that it gets better to all who are stuck in unsafe living situations and unable to be who they are unapologetically, unfortunately we are seeing an increase of hate crimes toward the queer community even in 2022, a year that we would hope to have progressed, and we continue to see the impact of homophobia and transphobia on youth who would rather take their own lives than live in an environment that hates them for who they are intrinsically. I want to say that it gets better if they are able to just get out of their situation, but many don’t have the financial independence or the external support system to do so.

That’s why organizations like Friends of Ruby are so important, because when these support systems and shelters exist so that youth can escape unsafe environments in order to fully be themselves, that’s when it’s possible to honestly say “it gets better.”

What advice would you give to younger people who are struggling with their sexuality or self identity?

A few things:

  • There’s no right or wrong way/time to come out, and there’s also no pressure to come out publicly. Everything should be on your time, when you feel most ready and safe.
  • Community is everything, so even having one or two people to confide in can make all the difference!
  • Queerness isn’t black and white – it’s a spectrum and is ever changing and evolving, so if you are only seeing a few of the main “labels” and don’t feel like you fit into them, that doesn’t take away from your queerness in the slightest! It took me ages to figure out my identity, and I’m still figuring it out to this day.
  • Also a little hint – if you’re questioning whether or not you’re queer, there’s a good chance you are 😉 So welcome!

In celebration of Pride, what are you most proud of in your life?

I’m extremely proud of the person I’ve become over the last 6-7 years since coming out. I’m happier, I have better and deeper friendships, I feel more confident in myself, and I continue to strive to grow as a person each day and learn new things!

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