Happy Pride Month! To commemorate the month of June, we spotlight an LGBTQ+ youth in our valley who serves as a safe space for other LGBTQ+ youth. Bronte P. Nelson, an eighth-grade student at Gypsum Middle School, identifies as non-binary, queer and uses they/them pronouns.
For those unfamiliar, a nonbinary person identifies with a gender other than "the male-female gender binary"—for example, an agender person whose identity is gender-neutral rather than specifically male or female.
Bronte has gone through a lot to find their true self, and it hasn't been easy. It has been filled with phases of personal discovery, rejection by important individuals, and bullying. Like many other LGBTQ+ youths, Bronte's journey was difficult, but they always found a way to make it enjoyable. They used a magic trick to come out to their mother as non-binary in a recent self-discovery. Bronte is proud to have a mother who has supported them throughout their journey. Despite their mother's acceptance, Bronte says that they are overcome with anxiety about not being accepted for who they are every time they come out. Bronte wants everyone to know how important being supportive and following up these conversations with a hug and an "I love you" can benefit the LGBTQ+ person in your life. They also encourage parents to check in regularly and do everything they can to show that they are an ally!
When asked what Pride means to them, they spoke on the importance of the journey. "The LGBTQ+ community has an extraordinary history, and the journey that we have been on since the stonewall riots has been important in developing what pride is today," said Bronte. Learning about the history of the LGBTQ+ community led them to their current passion project.
Bronte doesn't believe that their generation will make flying cars; they feel that their generation will educate all generations that it's okay to be who you are. Bronte is making this change happen through their passion project, a community thumbprint progress pride flag. They designed an inclusive pride flag on wood and wanted to fill it with the fingerprints of LGBTQ+ teachers, fellow students, and allies at their middle school. The passion project was initially slow; some students ripped down project signs. But with the help of supportive teachers and even more signs, more and more people added their fingerprints each day to make themselves seen and pledge their support to the LGBTQ+ community. It was an opportunity for teachers to add their fingerprints to serve as role models in front of students. Students and teachers could pick the colors of their self-identifying flag and anonymously mark who they were. Bronte also took as many opportunities as they could to educate students and teachers about the history and meanings of the LGBTQ+ community. This passion project spotlighted Bronte as a trusted friend. Students thanked Bronte for doing this passion project because they felt seen and supported. Classmates even felt safe coming out to Bronte because they were in a safe environment.
Bronte will continue to promote the importance of being a safe space at their second pride celebration, where they will be one of the few local speakers. Bronte will speak about their journey, the history of the LGBTQ+ community, encourage our community to pick their colors, and show their support by helping to fill out the rest of the thumbprint progress pride flag. Join Mountain Youth, Bronte Nelson, and many other community partners at Pride in the Park, June 12th at Nottingham Park from 12-7 pm. We hope to see you there, and make sure to stop by and add your thumbprint to the pride flag!