In Her Own Words: Anna Heilferty

Washington Spirit  |   June 27, 2024
In Her Own Words: Anna Heilferty Featured Image



What a beautiful month for reflection, celebration, and (most crucially) continued advocacy. I’m thrilled you’re here to celebrate the intersection of our wonderful DC soccer and LGBTQIA+ communities. Throughout this month, and especially at our game today, I hope you find moments to embrace the love, beauty, and pride within our community. It’s so inspiring to see people living authentically and embracing their truths. As we continue to celebrate and advocate, I want to share why Pride is important to me and how we in DC can contribute to our thriving queer community.

Pride has always been a source of light and empowerment for me as a queer person. Even though it’s been six years since I came out, I am still discovering my truest and most authentic self. I often struggle with finding the right label for my identity, but Pride celebrations remind me that being my true self is what matters most. Your existence today is enough—no explanations or reasons are needed. Let Pride remind us that LGBTQIA+ rights are not just about challenging societal norms around gender and sexuality but about affirming everyone’s right to live authentically.

As important as it is to celebrate our personal journeys, it’s equally crucial to remember the rich history of queer activism and community building that has served as the backbone for what we have today. This history allows us to honor the struggles and achievements of those who came before us and serves as a roadmap for our collective, ongoing fight for equality and justice.

One organization I’d like to lift up is the Rainbow History Project, an amazing non-profit organization committed to gathering, connecting, and memorializing the LGBTQIA+ movement in DC From the pioneering efforts of Frank Kameny and the Mattachine Society, to the tireless work of Earline Budd and other activists of color, our city has been at the forefront, fighting for the rights of those that would be otherwise marginalized. I encourage everyone to utilize resources like the Rainbow History Project and to seek inspiration from what the past provides – a valuable perspective on how far we’ve come.

Today, we are still fighting for equality, inclusion, representation, visibility, safety, and acceptance in all spaces, especially for our trans and gender-nonconforming community. Dedicated, safe, and inclusive spaces are vital to allowing queer individuals, especially queer youth, to thrive. Right here in DC, there are many organizations you can support that are working to provide just that:

The DC LGBTQ+ Community Center is an incredible resource that aims to provide a safe space that uplifts, empowers, and provides essential services and resources to the queer population in DC They are close to opening a new state-of-the art facility in Shaw that will serve as a hub for LGBTQIA+ individuals to connect, gather, and thrive in their communities.

SMYAL (Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders) is a nonprofit organization committed to investing in and amplifying the voices of our LGBTQIA+ youth. As one of Washington Spirit’s partners and, personally, as someone who has seen their work in action, I can tell you that they are absolutely changing the lives of one of our communities most vulnerable demographics. SMYAL emboldens kids to be the fearless leaders of the next generation.

A lot of this may not be new information, nor is it the whole picture, but it feels especially important to channel our energy in moments when we are met by movements of narrow minded thinking, willful ignorance, and even hate. Community has always been at the forefront of the LGBTQIA+ movement and I believe that is where our true power lies. So, whether you identify as LGBTQIA+ or are an amazing ally, I encourage you at Spirit games and moving forward, to open yourself up to the possibility of a new reality – one where we all lead with love and are able to exist in harmony. How can you play a role in helping us get there?

For now, enjoy the game and celebrate yourself. You are special!

-Anna Heilferty


P.S. Support local drag! DC’s drag community is full of so much talent, creativity, and culture!

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