Growing up in the South, Dylan Southerland had to decide what parts of his life as a gay man to hide and what parts he could share.
“Today, Pride means that I am able to authentically show myself to the world without shame,” Southerland said. “Today, I am able to fully live into who I am and I’m very proud of the man I’ve become.”
Now a nursing instructor at West Coast University-Texas, Southerland considers an inclusive environment “a place where everyone is given equal footing and treatment, a place where everyone feels comfortable enough to be their truest self.”
“Our students, both the LGBTQ+ students and our straight students, need to see and hear you using inclusive language and creating inclusive environments,” he said. “It really does wonders to help shape these young professionals into people who can provide inclusive, holistic care in the future by living out your example in the real world.”
While his experiences as cisgendered, gay, white male were not without trouble, Southerland said he understands that many members of the LGBTQ+ community “and many others who are still fighting to be seen and heard” face even greater obstacles than he had growing up. For Southerland, Pride means using his experiences and privileges to help fight for others to have a voice.
“I hope that I can provide an example to my students of what it means to live authentically and honestly so that they are motivated to do the same,” he said. “Do what feels right for you when it feels right for you. There’s no time stamp on when you have to have everything figured out. Living authentically is so freeing but it takes time, work, and a lot of courage. BE YOURSELF.”
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