Pride, to me, is so much more than my sexual orientation. To me, Pride is about having the confidence and acceptance of loving yourself. Pride is about owning who you are, living as authentically as you can. Whether you are an ally or a member of the LGBTQ community, we can all have pride for who we are, where we’ve come from, and where we intend to go. I truly believe that love should know no gender. I love my partner not because she is a woman, but for the person she is. I love her for her character because she is strong, kind, genuine, and authentic.

The question I get most is, “How did you know?” I think as a kid, I always kind of knew.

As a kid, I preferred shopping in the boy’s section rather than the girl’s section. I had crushes on female celebrities while my peers crushed on male celebrities. In high school, I started to get teased for my more masculine style. I would tiptoe into the men’s section of J. Crew hoping my peers wouldn’t see me. I spent much of my high school years trying to blend in.

It wasn’t until college that I made the decision to come out. Although I had this idea from a young age that I was more attracted to women, I had grown up going to catholic school and learned that being gay was wrong. Going to college, gave me that exposure to the LGBTQ community and the strength to realize there was nothing wrong with being gay. I figured I had two options: fight the feeling that makes me truly feel like me, or just accept and love myself for who I am.

I remember that I had made the decision to come out to my parents on a trip home during fall break. I was nervous, as I knew my dad was religious so I was very unsure how he would react to the news. My coming out was easy, and I fully acknowledge this is not the case for many members of the LGBTQ community. My parents were incredibly supportive and continue to be supportive of the relationship my partner and I have.

Today, I am proud to be a member of the LGBTQ community. My partner and I are both fitness instructors and strive to provide an inclusive environment for people to work out. To this day, I still shop in the men’s section, I embrace the things that make me who I am. I am grateful for the Miami fitness community that has embraced me and accepted me for who I am.