It makes sense to me that LGBTQ people are known for adorning ourselves with glitter — humans are drawn to the sight because historically when our ancestors saw the top of glittering water, they knew they were going to survive. Water sustains our life force. When LGBTQ people wear glimmering and glittering makeup looks or outfits, it’s as if we’re saying to our community, “You are going to survive. We are going to survive.” Pride is a reminder of our fierce resilience in the face of violence and discrimination — and beyond that, it is an affirmation that queer and trans people deserve to not only survive but also thrive.

While Pride month is certainly about community and collectivizing queer and trans joy, it has a deeply personal meaning for every single LGBTQ person. I remember my first Pride, when I wasn’t really out yet but was already falling in love with my first girlfriend. It was a sacred space where I felt safe to engage in PDA with her in a rural town where I often felt fear holding hands as we had been called “faggots” while walking down the street together. At Pride, I got to bear witness to vast forms of queer self-expression that I never thought possible. For my teenage self, it was an affirmation that my desires were not abnormal and that I could live the kinky, queer life I craved. Here, 14 other queer women share what Pride means to them.

“This year, Pride means joy and community — celebrating my beautiful queer friends who make my life brighter and I am so lucky to have in my life. Holding my partner’s hand. Being in spaces with my people. Pride is also political. Pride is about putting your vote and your money where your mouth is, which [means giving it] back to the members of our community who are the most marginalized and still struggling.” —Eva, 23, bisexual, Toronto

“This year’s Pride has given me mixed feelings. [The 50th anniversary of Stonewall] is a momentous moment in our history and an exciting time for the city of New York. However, this occasion has brought out some of the greed and competitiveness that goes against everything Pride is meant to stand for. I hope that in celebrating, we can take a moment to remember those we have lost and the importance of community and respect for all.”  —CB, 31, gay/lesbian/queer, Los Angeles

“To me, Pride is being able to come to terms with who you are and OWN it. I went to my first Pride when I was still in the closet and just felt an overwhelming sense of love, joy, and support. Pride is also about supporting other queer people, whether they’re in the closet, out and proud, and have a supportive family or don’t. Pride is about love — for yourself and others.” —Tyra, 21, lesbian, Dallas

“I was born in New York. I come from Jewish immigrants who fled antisemitism and the Holocaust to come here. They lost everything yet were able to build a beautiful life of freedom. It’s deep in my bones to look at New York as a symbol of freedom, so the fact that I get to celebrate the freedom of my own sexuality in the very place my family was able to express their freedom of culture and religion feels very emotional to me.” —Zara, 30, lesbian, New York City

“Pride month means pushing myself to be a more whole and open person despite all the naysayers. It means drawing on the energy of all the people celebrating to better myself and be more visible.” —Chaya, 24, queer, Milwaukee

“For me, Pride means family. Over the years, I’ve been blessed with a tribe of people who love me for me. Pride is a huge reminder of that.” —Angie, 31, pansexual, Brooklyn, New York

Pride is a reminder — in the most fist-in-the-air-but-make-it-glitter kind of way — of our legacy: that we are strong together, that we must fight for the freedom of the most oppressed in our community, and that queer love and joy is our greatest power.

“Pride represents dissonance to me. I feel a sense of unification from the queer community and dissatisfaction in the capitalism of the movement. As a queer woman of color, I feel like Pride has been colonized by cis-presenting, white men and companies that promote inclusion 30 days out of the year. Everybody wants to be gay at the parade, but who actually represents what we need as an accomplice?” —Hunter, 29, queer/pansexual, Dayton, Ohio

“This year, Pride is about continuing to resist and honoring the legacy of Stonewall. The current administration is taking giant steps back for LGBTQ equality, and the world is becoming an increasingly dangerous place for queer and trans people. My goal this Pride is to remind my allies how much we need them to advocate for us.” —Laura, 23, queer, Denver

“Pride serves as a reminder that we’re here, we’re queer, and that there is this unapologetically unique and beautiful army standing behind each and every one of us. It’s all about our community.” —Hannah, 27, queer, Los Angeles

“The LGBTQI+ community is unparalleled in our capacity to protest joyfully and love fiercely, and Pride is a time we get to do this with abandon. As a white, cis-gendered lesbian femme in a relationship with a bisexual femme, I live with both privileged and marginalized identities. Pride is a reminder — in the most fist-in-the-air-but-make-it-glitter kind of way — of our legacy: that we are strong together, that we must fight for the freedom of the most oppressed in our community, and that queer love and joy is our greatest power.” —Jessie, 31, lesbian, New York City

“I never loved Pride when I lived in a city — it was too corporate — but the smaller Pride events in Harrisonburg and Staunton, Virginia are incredibly important. In many ways, Pride events in small towns bring out the allies, which leaves me feeling hopeful and supported. Also, the protesters might be our neighbors and have terrible signs, and then later we live next to and are just fine with one another. Last year was Staunton’s first Pride celebration, and it was wonderful. I went with my chosen family, who are hetero parents with two queer kids. Together we all got to experience our community coming together and caring about a marginalized population.” —Kathryn, 35, queer femme, Staunton, Virginia

“Pride, to me, means freedom and celebration. It’s a time to unabashedly cover yourself in glitter and scream ‘YASSS’ (even though a lot of us do that every day). Pride means thank you to all those who came before us and those who are still fighting for us to exist without persecution. Pride is both sacred and lit AF.” —Dayna, 26, dyke, New York City

“I didn’t come out until I was 27, so for me, Pride, is a celebration of finally feeling comfortable in my own skin. It’s also an opportunity to remember the history of this movement, particularly the Stonewall Riots. We must honor those who fought for our rights, and Pride is a great time to do that.” —Bonnie, 29, queer, Minneapolis

“This is my first Pride after coming out to my family. I want to honor all of my LGBTQ siblings — those who are out and proud and those who aren’t safe enough to be out yet. Visibility is so important, but it’s a double-edged sword living in a rural place where it can make us more vulnerable to discrimination. I’m excited to see our community come together despite all of that. We are so much stronger together.” —Carly, 24, bisexual, Asheville, North Carolina