Pride is something that I have been celebrating for years, even before I was able to stand in my own truth. As a young dancer, I never saw LGBTQIA+ individuals as anything other than my mentors, my teachers, and my choreographers. The dance community, in my opinion, was a safer one than most as a questioning individual in the 90s. I also knew at a young age that I was “different,” but couldn’t understand fully what that meant. As I got older, I began to realize that “different” was not something to be ashamed of.
I later became a choreographer and a teacher myself, and I knew I wanted to create a safe space for all of my students; somewhere that they could just beautifully BE in that moment, and discover who they wanted to become in their futures. However, creating that safe space for them didn’t fill the void that I had for myself. I still held my secret tight and was afraid to truly say, proudly, who I was. I worked so hard to create that safe space for my dancers, and yet I was too afraid to cultivate that place for myself. This road was brutal, and a constant battle of my mind, my body, and my heart.
The courage revealed itself when I began to fall in love with my then friend, and now wife. She was my strength, when I trembled in fear at the thought of coming out to my family, my friends, my students, and my colleagues. She held me up, when I collapsed into her arms from the negative and unaccepting responses I received after coming out. And she was also there to bring to light, how much better you feel when you aren’t carrying around such a massively heavy secret.
I was luckier than some, and my family has been so supportive and accepting. I know that several do not have this outcome, and that is why I now speak loudly with pride so that the world begins to see, even if it is just one voice at a time, how often LOVE will win over hate.
What I know now is that, I want to continue to create an outlet for all of my students, especially the LGBTQIA+ youth. I will continue to do that work for them because, no one should live in fear of expressing who they truly are, or who they love. I want that for them, but beyond that, I want that for the world.
🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈 Sarah Burney