Marching with pride toward a better futureBottom Highlights, Latest Issue, Queerly Forward Thursday, August 3rd, 2017
Commentary: Queerly Forward
Pride was a rite of passage. During my first Pride, back in Baltimore, Md., I remember looking around and feeling completely overwhelmed by simply existing in the same space as thousands of other LGBTQ people at once. It gave a sense of community and context to my identity that I desperately needed. My network was still small at the time, extending only to those I had met in the LGBTQ student group at college. That sea of people dressed head-to-toe in rainbows as they celebrated in the streets provided tangibility to my place within the larger community. I was one of many; I belonged.
Each year, Pride carried a deep personal significance that mirrored the larger context of my life. That first year, it felt like my own personal coming out parade, a festival of queerness that celebrated the identity I had embraced mere months earlier. The year I was newly single, Pride was a much-needed reminder that there were plenty of fish in the sea, that just because my dating pool was smaller than it would have been if I were straight, it was still an ocean, not a pond. Only a few weeks after uprooting my life to move to Ohio, I attended Columbus Pride, a neon sign from the universe that queer spaces and people were in abundance in the Midwest and that I had the possibility to make a home there. Two years later, my husband and I would consider missing that same Pride festival, raw and in shock from the Orlando shooting a week prior. That year, Pride would represent unity in a way it never could before. Attending that Pride was a victory of spirit, a reminder that Pride began in a time when fear and struggle ruled.
Pride is the child of riots, born from a fight for equality. The glitter and garish floats and dancing in the streets may ignite joy in our souls, but the occasion itself should also serve as a reminder that what we have now didn’t come easy – and that we don’t have it all just yet. Our place in this world is still so fragile, our rights so easily ripped away.
I moved to San Diego exactly one month before this year’s Pride, a move spurred by my little family’s own personal fight for validity. As much as we chose San Diego for the sunshine and chill vibe, we chose it for the possibility of a better life. A lack of acceptance from the people the world calls our families paired with the unstable political climate of swing states such as Ohio were only some of the not-so-frequently-shared motivators for our cross country endeavor. All-gender bathrooms and a rental agreement clause that prevents discrimination over sexuality and gender identity may not seem novel, but those were commodities in our life before. Marching in the palm tree-lined streets of San Diego was made possible by the pain of our pasts, pain that most of our allies are lucky enough to never understand.
Pride is aching and opportunity, setbacks and progress, no-you-can’ts and yes-we-cans. It has been a safe haven and a cause for fear, a riot and a celebration. Pride is dynamic, like the beautiful people it represents, and we will keep marching in the streets and fighting for our lives until all the reasons why are a memory.
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