My Voice of Pride
Written By: Ash Tolson
Ash is a member of JFS’ Alphabet Soup Kids (ASK) support and social group for local LGBTQ+ teens. Here he writes about the experience of marching at NYC Pride for the first time.
My name is Ash Tolson. I am a Transgender man and I am proud of that.
When I first came out as Transgender, I felt very alone. I didn’t know any other Trans kids, or even very many other LGBT+ individuals. Through the help of a friend and my therapist, I found Alphabet Soup Kids (ASK), the support group at Jewish Family Services.
I joined ASK during the last meeting before summer break in 2016, but that didn’t matter to them. They all accepted me as one of their own and I immediately felt at home.
We are a quite diverse group of individuals in the group, which is super awesome and proves to be helpful when someone needs advice. During meetings we discuss topics important to us and all have the opportunity to voice our opinions. Everyone in the group trusts each other and leans on the other members for support. ASK is an absolutely amazing group that has provided me with so many friends and an amazing support system.
Marching at Pride
Since I came out, I have dreamed of marching at Pride. The idea of being around so many like-minded people made me smile. I have been out and proud as Trans for over a year and a half. When I found out that ASK was bringing a group to march at NYC Pride in June, I jumped at the opportunity!
This year, 2 million people, including 45,000 marchers, met in New York City to celebrate their pride and support of the LGBT+ community.
This year I had the great honor of being one of the marchers in the parade.
I never imagined that I would ever be part of a Pride parade, let alone the one in New York.
The march was a big deal for my family. It was the first LGBT+ event that we would be attending together as a family. It seemed to be all we could talk about for two months. And with no surprise it exceeded all our expectations.
The struggles I’ve gone through up until this point in my life are nothing compared to the overwhelming amount of joy and pride I felt as I marched.
With every step I took, I felt like I was shedding my fear and shame and getting farther from the disapproving glares of the people who don’t support me. Most importantly, each step I took down that path took me one step farther in my transition. One step closer to the man I want to be.
I feel that it is very important for me to be loud and proud about who I am simply because I can be. I am very privileged in the sense that I have a family that accepts me while many others don’t. I want to be a role model for all of the LGBT+ members who don’t have someone to look up to, or can’t come out or be proud of who they are for whatever reason. It is vitally important that as a community we stand together in pride.
As for me, standing in pride means admitting that I am a Transgender Man and I am proud of that.
I am proud that more than 2 million people can come together to celebrate themselves and one another.
I am proud that I have come so far in my life.
I am proud to be a part of the LGBT+ community.
Alphabet Soup Kids (ASK) is a support and social group for LGBTQ+ youth. Learn more >>>