I want to start this by wishing everyone a Happy Pride!
Recently, I was reminded of how bad we are as queer people at teaching our own history both to each other and to our allies.
One of my friend's wife came out recently and filed for divorce. She said to me, probably thinking she instantly had me on her side as a queer brother, that everyone was upset with her, despite having an accepting family - she was not the first of her siblings to be 'family.'
The problem, you see, wasn't that she was finally living her authentic self, but that it felt solely performative.
She actually said to me "when does being gay get fun?" She wanted to know why she wasn't being congratulated? And she continued with " Isn't Pride a big party?"
She had had no clue why we celebrate Pride. And she seemed to think that coming out would make life simpler and easier. It had never crossed her mind the fight that each queer person I've ever known has had with themselves. I don't know a single queer person who hasn't cried themselves to sleep wishing and praying to not be different. And she didn't get the idea that coming out is a daily event. You don't just come out and be done, it's an event that happens every single day.
Begrudgingly, I took the time to have a conversation about what the struggle journey of self, coming out is. And I explained the history and protest Pride grew out of. I told her about Stonewall and to do her own research, that Pride is a celebration, it's an act of defiance and protest. It's a statement of 'you try to hide us, you want us to hide so you can pretend we don't we don't exist, well we're gonna be here as loud and visible as we can." It's an act of public protest.
She replied that she felt "cheated and lied to." It almost felt like she had gay buyers remorse. I was beyond angry and it took so much out of me not not lash out.
All of this to say that we need to do better, we need to teach our history, we need to remember that Pride is about celebrating that despite our oppressors, we thrive. We celebrate to show our queer brothers and sister that they have a community.
But we also need to do better. we are too exclusionary. There are our queer siblings everywhere, not just gay and lesbian. Trans siblings are as ever-present as the rest of our siblings and we need to remember that they are part of our community. We must love and support each other. And we must remember that we aren't the gatekeepers who define what one person's identity of self-queerness is.
This was a lesson that this experience reminded me. Despite my anger and offense at how this young woman decide to come out, and her misunderstands, I don't get to discount her. I can't say, 'you aren't in this community.' Only she can define what her queer self its.
So despite my anger at how she did it and if she is being true, it's not mine to define.
It's mine simply to be in community with my queer siblings; as it is for us all, and for me to simply remind each and everyone of you:
You are seen; you are loved; you matter.