Who are the voices you listen to during Pride Month? Whose narratives drive your thoughts and beliefs on LGBTQ+ rights? Whose voices are you giving a platform during Pride and through the rest of the year?
It’s June 2023, and we are in the heart of another Pride Month. If you are wondering how Pride Month got started, you can read a brief recap here where I talk about the infamous Stonewall Riots and the role of Black and POC members of the LGBTQ+ Community.
While in some areas of the United States, it seems like there has been a lot of progress in supporting the LGBTQ+ Community – there are many areas where the exact opposite is occurring, in very terrifying ways. Individuals of all ages are being bullied, harassed, jailed, and killed.
Supporting the human dignity of every person leaves no space for this type of behavior. There is, and never will be, justification for the harm that we are causing to each other. This is what breaks my heart.
I reached out to three friends of mine, asking them to share some of their own personal thoughts on Pride and their lived experiences as members of the LGBTQ+ Community. What does it mean to live as a queer person in 2023?
Share a Little About Yourself
Ayla (she/they): I remember watching Rudy Galindo’s figure skating back in the 90s when he was the first openly gay National Figure Skating Champion. I sat with my sisters in awe of this outspoken, fearless Latinx gay man as he graced the ice with his superb skill and dazzling and unconventional suits of pink and frilly embellishments. I did not know much about the world back then, but I knew that this man’s willingness to be true to himself, to make himself visible, and to put his principles ahead of scores or backlash in a conservative sport like figure skating was something worthy of respect. It’s something that has stuck with me as I’ve moved through my life–an example I can only hope to aim for.
Tori (she/her): I am a semi-recent law school grad living with my fiancee, cat, and dog! I enjoy reading, embroidery, and cozy video games. I’ve been out as a bisexual woman since about 2017.
In your own experience, what does Pride mean to you?
Ayla (she/they): When I moved into my current house, I hung rainbow lights and pride flags in my street-facing windows. I have them up year-round, a lesbian pride flag, a trans pride flag, and a progress pride flag. While garnering me some negative reactions from neighbors, my rainbow decor has certainly helped me differentiate between the neighbors who are nice and those who are bigots. At the beginning of June, my sister put up some rainbow lights on her house in conservative Boebert territory, Colorado. One of her neighbors stormed over yelling at her to “take down those queer lights!” So, pride means, I suppose, that some people who don’t normally face the hate get to have it shouted in their faces. But, it also means the bigots probably feel a little more alone, which is good.
Tori (she/her): Pride has meant a lot of different things to me at different points in time. When I just started coming out, it was really for me to feel a sense of community and joy to embrace myself. I think it is a time to honor those of us who have fought to get here, and revel in the beauty of the community. It’s been harder to feel joy in the way that I have in previous years with how much vitriol the community has been receiving, so I am doing my best to embrace hope and happiness to truly feel pride!
What message would you want to share with others?
Ayla (she/they): Respect who someone says they are. And if you don’t have anything nice to say, shut your mouth unless you’re firing it off against hate.
Tori (she/her): The trans community has been subject to countless vicious attacks in the past few years–even from within the LGBT community. I would want everyone to know that you can’t support me as a queer woman, or any of us who fall in the L,G,B, or Q identities without supporting our trans siblings.
How can the LGBTQ+ community be supported during Pride Month, and every day?
Ayla (she/they): Speak up, stand up. Wear your support on the outside. Because secretly supporting someone is useless to that person and is only to make yourself feel better.
Tori (she/her): I think showing a lot of love and support is more important than ever. From things as small as sharing positive instagram stories to showing up at statehouses to testify against anti-LGBTQ bills, each of us needs to speak up. Working to eradicate homophobia and transphobia goes hand and hand with being anti-racist and feminist (and anti-capitalist, imo), so to be on the front of the social justice movements is essential.
A Closing Voice
My last contributor asked to remain anonymous, and I respect and support her desire to do so. I want to close with her thoughts.
As a 9-year-old, two of my closest friends asked me if I was gay. Their reasoning was because I had never had a crush on a boy. I remember feeling like something was wrong with me. Why HADN’T I? I remember obsessing about “finding a crush” in order to fit in. In order to prove I wasn’t gay.
To me, Pride is beautiful and complex. I have not welcomed in [I have not come out to] my parents and most of my family. I am so privileged to be able to pass as a straight woman because of the relationship I am currently in. This privilege has provided me with a type of safety that the majority of my community will never have. This privilege has allowed me to decide who I WANT to welcome in [come out to] while still being in a relationship that is authentic to me. It wasn’t until I was a senior in college that I accepted my sexuality and said out loud to another person that I am bi. It took a while for me to be proud.
Looking back, I laugh at the little things that I now can see were little gay me coming into her truth. I couldn’t tell you how many times as a 15-year-old I watched Shakira’s She Wolf video, or why I was so overly devastated at the end of my friendship with the girl who thought I was gay. What I do know is that I every single day I have more pride in who I am.
Let the Voices Stay With You
From these 3 voices, what have you learned? Has it changed the perspective you had when you started reading? What steps will you take moving forward?
I would love to hear your thoughts and continue the conversation. And please share this post with everyone. It isn’t my voice that needs to be heard, but the ones above that need to spread like wildfire.