This year was my first pride ever. Even if the heat was a bit too much, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have fun. I received enthusiastic waves, heard campy screams, smiled under stares from protesters (at least one was an actual Nazi), and developed a large blister on my pinky toe. I sat at a booth with my friends and sold tank tops while we reveled in our queerness. The misery of a burgeoning Tennessee summer was diminished. A week later I am living an alternate version of Richard III, now is the summer of my discontent, and it started with pride.
Let’s start with the “easy” issues. Underneath all the rainbow colors, pride is white. Two nightclub floats and countless drag queens but no organization there took the time to remind us that TPOC (Google now) lives matter. There were also plenty of cute Babadook pins and signs at pride this year. I did not see a single sign, shirt, pin, or even a God-damned brick that gave any credit to Marsha P. Johnson (Again, Google now). I work with a person who was part of a float for a local “gay” organization. When I saw him at work after pride I asked, “How many people of color are in your organization?” After some thought, he replied that there were no regular black members and maybe a few Latinx or Hispanic members. Maybe.
If you think this piece has taken on an angry tone, you would be right. However, do not confuse my frustration with self-righteousness. I am a white queer, so I am guilty of doing fucked up things too. One thing I do know that I can do right is shut up (Depression helps with that). So, this is for my fellow white people, queer or not. Shut. The. Fuck. Up. Listen to what POC are saying and asking you to do because we will never understand the challenges they go through.
Up next is the fragile masculinity that is pervasive through our whole society, but I am just going to address the queer folks (especially the gays). I’ll provide a little “rule” for this one. If you enjoy/compliment/caress my arm in front of all my friends (it happened) while I am in drag, but you think I am too feminine to take on a date. You. Are. An. Asshole. Now, wasn’t that easy to understand? Just in case, I’ll expand. If someone (again, looking specifically at the white cisgender gays) is too feminine for you, it means that you have internalized misogynistic beliefs and are projecting at least one of those onto the person you are belittling. If you still don’t get it or want more information Google now.
To top off my whole pride experience, I am struggling with my depression. I know I am far from alone in the queer community with this struggle, and recently, I have been somewhat thankful for this challenge. All the terrible thoughts and feelings that come with depression make it hard to have any self-confidence. But you know what? When a queen finds it hard to wear her crown, she learns about humility and the struggles her fellow monarchs face. As we move forward and learn to wear our crowns, let’s remember our history, actually listen to POC, and respect the queens. If you still don’t get it (even after Googling), then it’s time for you to sashay away.