In the year of 1969, we finally got tired and threw a brick through a police car window because we were collectively over being pushed out of spaces. It has been celebrated in a semi-official capacity every year since…
…and every year since, we’ve had to fight not to be pushed out of our spaces we belong to.
Every single year, there is some discourse or other on what Pride is or should be, what it should contain, who is welcome, who is not welcome, what it means, what it may become… and I’m tired. I’m bi and ace/aro and I’m tired.
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At the time this goes live, it will be May 28th and Pride month in the US will begin in 4 days. A year ago at this time – even in the shadow of a pandemic, the grief of numerous dead black and brown bodies, and a presidency determined to see me and mine destroyed – I was still hopeful for a month of solidarity and celebration with people who were like me, but also entirely unlike me.
I’ll be honest here: I don’t hold that hope in my heart this year. Instead, I want to pick up a brick and roar… at other queer people while screaming “ASSIMILATION IS NOT GOING TO SAVE US”. Whether the conversation is about where bi/pan/asexual/aromantic people fit in or whether people need to wear more modest clothing “for the kids”, all I see is someone looking at my oppressors, then looking at me and going “Why can’t you be more like them? Isn’t that what you want? For people to respect you and treat you well?”
The answer to that is – and should always be – another brick thrown.
The birth of Pride was a riot because people were tired of being ostracized, harassed, and bullied for existing and every year we gather to commemorate a time when some people said, “That’s enough of that shit.” On the back of black trans folks along with other people of color at that time and over the years. This is a time for us to be all of ourselves and not have to mask it. To celebrate the living, mourn our lost, cement the pieces of our identity still forming, and steel our resolve for the future and the fight is and always has to be from without and within.
This is the first time some kid or adult somewhere might find out where in the community they belong because people aren’t afraid to be all of it in the open unlike the rest of the year where federal law determines when, where, and to what extent we are allowed to even be counted as people let alone exist in peace.
Also? Considering that most Pride events still require explicit legal approval and only happen in places we are approved to go anyway? You can keep the kids at home. Re-read that whole thing.
Meanwhile, people like me struggle knowing we are different and have no access to queer culture in all of its forms until well into their late 30s only to find out who they are and having wasted time, effort, energy being people they were never going to become only to then realize they are going to have to fight tooth and nail against people who would erase what they have only just begun to embrace. Why? Because somehow, seeing someone in leather and a thong during the summer at an event we don’t have to be at is going to ruin people.
But sure, unlike all the years before this, if we’re peaceable and don’t cause trouble, we’ll be better off and maybe these cishet people who hold all the systemic power will finally see we’re just like them and let us be whole human beings.
I’m not going to mince words here: I hate every word of this. Every word.
Maybe it’s my blackness being told the same thing about my speech, my clothes, my hair, my choice of friends, my lack of choice where being born with melanin is concerned, the way that trying to assimilate as suggested was entirely unfruitful and didn’t save a single drop of black blood from being shed daily – sometimes multiple times – with full government approval in spite of centuries of people trying and knowing that all the while, the same people being real quiet when that truth was made evident then are the same people commenting on people and their clothing at pride now.
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The facts are the conversations and discourse so common to social media are just pointed in the wrong direction and at the same time revealing; we’re still policing what identities are approved, what’s allowed, what’s not… marginalizing the marginalized. And for the approval of whom? For what? Foolishness.
The truth is that queerness and our understanding of it is evolving and will continue. The language we have will evolve with that understanding and so will it’s loud, vibrant expression. It doesn’t stop and it won’t. It doesn’t and shouldn’t matter if it is inconvenient to whatever the status quo is. We’ve been set back centuries because we couldn’t just be out here and existing without having to pretend to be something and someone else more palatable in order to work in a factory, be a cashier, write books and poetry, to buy a cup of coffee or a donut, etc because of the status quo.
The response to trying to do that: we fucking rioted. I think the conclusion is established, so I’m not interested in trying to repeat that. Unless people are having orgies in the street, we can mind our business.
Instead, we can turn that energy toward support our black queer folks, not erasing our bi, pan, and ace folks, honoring our nonbinary folks, and holding a quiet reminder at all times that even at the best of times, silence and compliance erodes our community and connection to each other. There will never be a place for that in our future. There will be no place for assimilation in our future. It’s either us or those who would see us dead and that is all.