In celebration of Pride month, Billion Strong CMO, Soni Thompson, talks about her life at the intersection of two diverse and marginalized communities.
I’ve always known who I am – or at least, I always knew that I was a girl who reaaaally liked other girls. I remember giving a huge Valentine’s Day card to the prettiest girl in my 2nd grade class (and was later teased for mistakenly writing “you are my sweatheart”), buying 10 packs of gum for another pretty girl in 3rd grade (because I wanted to make sure I got her favorite flavor), and then trading my brand-new Andy Gibb record to the pretty girl who lived across the street (for just one kiss).
Just because I knew how I felt inside, butterflies included, growing up as a female who was attracted to other females wasn’t easy. I think the first time that someone called me a dyke in middle school, I said, “I AM NOT!” I mean, I was… but I didn’t want to identify with something that was delivered with such negativity and judgement.
So, I can relate to the people who don’t want to identify as part of a group or community that is criticized, shunned, or even just looked at as being different. But the thing is, even though I might be part of a minority, there are soooo many people like me, people who have had similar life experiences, and through the LGBTQ+ community, we’ve developed incredible feelings of pride.
I started out by saying that I’ve always known who I am, but that’s not entirely true. I didn’t know until a few years ago that I had an invisible disability. I don’t remember being anxious as a kid, but as an adult, my anxiety grew to the point of physically making me sick. Even though I’ve learned how to manage my anxiety with medication, I know firsthand how debilitating it can be.
There are so many things that make me, me. I’m someone’s daughter, granddaughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, friend, coach, employee, co-worker, mother, and grandmother. I’m also part of the LGBTQ+ community, and I’m part of the disabled community. Some of those things might be more visible than others (wink), but that doesn’t make me any “less” or “more than” in either of those groups.
The LGBTQ+ community has worked really hard to come together, move forward, fight for equality, and to have pride. This is what we envision for Billion Strong. We encourage the LGBTQ+ community (and other diverse, marginalized groups) who also have disabilities (visible and invisible) around the world to join this movement and find the freedom and power in being able to self-identify. We are a global community for and by people with disabilities, and we embrace the intersection of other overlooked and undervalued groups.
We are so much stronger together. Join Billion Strong with Pride.