Cody and his partner Joshua live in Sioux Falls. Currently, Cody volunteers with Sioux Falls Pride and hopes by sharing his story that people consider getting more involved with their local LGBTQ community like him.
What does it look like, for you, to celebrate LGBTQ culture and history?
Pride month is all about community, whether you find it at a night club, the library, or a coffee shop. Being with fellow LGBTQ people and peers is where I love to be. After years of hiding who I was to myself, my family, and my peers, it’s liberating to be able to not only express myself, but celebrate it.
What has your experience been like, living as an out-LGBTQ person in South Dakota?
Overall, living out in South Dakota has had its days. Generally, it has been OK. I’ve found a wonderful community of support through friends, volunteering, and my own little family. Coming out in a more conservative environment was difficult at first. I noticed a severe lack of understanding from my peers at the time, which led to a rather negative blowback from where I was working and spending a large portion of my week at the time.
However, once I found a strong and supportive community, it got easier. I found community through volunteering and giving back to my community. Working downtown and working with Sioux Falls Pride has led to some incredible opportunities both personally and professionally.
Truly, living out and proud in South Dakota is a mixed bag at times, but the work I’ve been able to do through Sioux Falls Pride truly is making a difference. We’re building a strong support system for LGBTQ people not only in Sioux Falls, but also statewide.
How do you hope to impact your community during Pride season and beyond? Why is this important to you?
I am a firm believer that volunteerism is a true testament to pride in one’s community. This is why I give my time to organizations that are putting in the work to make Sioux Falls a better place for LGBTQ people like me. Sioux Falls Pride has been at the forefront of building community in Sioux Falls for the last two decades. They’ve hosted events, helped defeat ant-LGBTQ legislation with the ACLU of South Dakota, and so much more.
LGBTQ Pride is important because we need community. By volunteering with Sioux Falls Pride, I have been able to support a community of people that lifted me up when I needed it.
Since volunteering with Sioux Falls Pride, I’ve helped introduce the first Pride Pub Crawl in 2018, and in 2019, the first Pride Parade. I’m confident that by offering new events and opportunities for people to come together, we can foster stronger relationships and build a better community for LGBQT folk.
Why should people get involved in their LGBTQ community? What advice do you have for people wanting to do more?
People should get involved because everyone has the ability to make a difference. Regardless of your race, political views, sexual orientation, gender identity, or income, you can do something. I highly encourage folks to get involved because it’s worth it. Pride is all about love, and what’s better than spreading that?
Who do you admire in the LGBTQ community? How have you been inspired by their actions?
I admire people who devote time to helping others. To be specific, I was inspired by a coworker at Starbucks here in Sioux Falls. She played a vital role in me coming out as gay, which lead to me being able to actually embrace my identity.
As cliché as it might sound, she told me that I needed to follow my heart. Crazy right? But it is so true. By just going with my gut and following how I truly feel, I’ve felt much better. It even led me to have the courage to help others do the same. I’m very thankful for her kindness and openness when I needed it most.