Meet Lexie Nobrega. She saw Pride Month as a great reason to celebrate and spend time with her grandparents.
The 21-year-old who lives and studies in Norfolk, Virginia, traveled to Washington, D.C., for the city's Pride Month festivities. Not only would Nobrega celebrate being herself, she'd also get to spend a few nights with her grandparents — two of her favorite people.
Her grandmother's small act of kindness on the day of the Capital Pride Festival is now going viral.
When Nobrega woke up to get ready that morning, her grandma, Hermina, walked into the room, took one look at the creases on her granddaughter's bisexual Pride flag and thought, "No, this won't do." So she got out her iron and started "pressing it out."
Nobrega was overcome with emotion and wanted to remember the moment, so she snapped a picture for social media. Her intention was just to share it with family, but the gesture was so poignant that the photo quickly rocketed into the world, fueled by tens of thousands of likes and retweets.
Nobrega says her grandmother also ironed out the rest of her costume so she wouldn't go to Pride looking anything but her best.
This kind of support is nothing new for her grandparents.
Nobrega, who came out to her grandparents as bisexual during her senior year of high school, notes that while they'd always been her rock, being open with them about her identity was still difficult.
"Both of my grandparents have always taught me to love and accept all people, but coming out to them still wasn't easy," she says. "I was afraid that they would judge me or treat me differently."
Coming out is a complex and personal process and — as many people in the LGBTQIA community will tell you — there's a lot of fear that comes along with telling even the most loving people in your life.
For Nobrega, nothing changed: "They gave me a big hug and said, 'That's OK, we love you.'"
Nobrega's been "blown away" by all the love she received, but it's not surprising that her grandmother's actions have resonated far and wide.
As someone who came out of the closet to parents who were virulently homophobic at the time — though my mom and dad's views have since changed drastically — I can tell you firsthand how lonely, isolating, and scary it can feel.
The feeling of not having to hide who you truly are anymore is indescribable. But having to face the reality that you may lose the love and support of your family isn't just painful, it can be dangerous: According to recent research, LGBTQIA youth are at a higher risk of experiencing homelessness than other youth.
So seeing Nobrega's picture wasn't just heartwarming — it was also a clear sign that acceptance and progress are on the move.
For allies, it's a clear message that you don't have to make grand gestures to show up for your LGBTQIA friends and family. Just like Hermina did.
"My grandma is small but has a huge, compassionate heart," Nobrega says. "She loves learning about the LGBT+ community and never judges others for who they are or who they love. Even the smallest gestures of support speak volumes to someone who is a part of the LGBT+ community."
What does that look like? For Nobrega, support includes showing love and compassion to those in the community, listening to their experiences without judgment, educating oneself on the different identities that fall under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella, and putting a special focus on those identities — such as bisexuality, asexuality, and aromanticism — which often go underrepresented or are erased, and supporting local LGBTQIA centers and shelters.
It all makes a difference.
Lexie Nobrega looked amazing at Capital Pride. Just look at that flag.
Her grandma? She couldn't have been any prouder.