The opposite of pride is shame. And Sasha Montes De Oca lived in shame of her identity for nearly four decades — until she found true love and was unable to deny it any more.
“Pride means being able to show who I am — without shame. Being able to proudly say that the woman who stands next to me is my wife — and that she is the true love of my life,” Montes De Oca said.
Montes De Oca said it wasn’t until she met her now wife that she realized that “my love for her is as legitimate as any woman’s love for a man.”
“I have hidden who I was for 39 years. I have put myself in situations to make others happy and felt ashamed of myself because I wasn’t who I was ‘supposed to be,’ according to the rest of the world. Wondering if my feelings were legitimate, uncertain of what to do or who to be,” Montes De Oca said. “I had hidden relationships with women my entire adult life, being made to feel shame for my feelings by people I was close to.”
“Whoever you love – the only thing that matters is that you love them with your whole heart,” she said. “Their or your orientation doesn’t matter, their identification doesn’t matter, the feelings are what matter.”
As the associate director of nursing academics at West Coast University-Los Angeles, Montes De Oca said for her an inclusive environment is where identities and orientations aren’t assumed and people are welcoming of whoever they are interacting with — “regardless of religion, skin color, orientation or identification.”
“If you do not know what to say, that’s OK. If you have questions, ask. You will never understand if you don’t ask,” Montes De Oca said.
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