"Pride means that little girl got back up and chose to spend her life helping others up, too."
"My name is Ms. Dianne. I run the Dole Clubhouse afterschool program, teach a variety of art classes, and happen to be pansexual. Being able to state this is a testament to my Pride journey. When I was a middle schooler in rural Ohio, someone pushed me down the stairs at school, calling 'Lesbian!' in disgust. For a long time after, I felt guilty for liking Xena and thinking girls were pretty. I didn’t know what Pride was then, but I do now.
Pride means that little girl got back up and chose to spend her life helping others up, too. Pride means speaking up against injustice. Pride means building a community where everyone feels safe to be themselves. Pride means watching an 8-year-old student bring a “They” coloring page up, telling me that for the first time, they were represented in artwork. Pride means an adult student trusting me with their blossoming trans journey and their new pronouns. Pride means being able to meet someone’s eyes, speak their name, and connect through the exchange of loving kindness.
I am proud to be part of the Park District of Oak Park, which provides me with boundless opportunities to put my Pride to practice."