Personal reflections about Pride in 2021 and previous observations that bear repeating — TQ191.
Living with pride means living fully and freely out (of the closet) with acceptance and peace of mind.
Living with pride is about how you use your difference — your uniqueness — to make a positive difference in your world and in the lives of others.
We don’t have to be divisive to make a difference. Seeking only to make a difference, without consideration for the consequences, may not create a more harmonious society and humanity. We must first seek connection to make a collective difference — even if that connection is at first only with others like ourselves. Freedom in numbers allows others to see us for who we are.
Living out and proud for me has been a struggle and an experience.
From coming out at 18 to being who I am now at 55, I have evolved over those 35-plus years of my ‘out-ness’. At first, I was scared and living in the closet. In my 20s and early 30s I evolved into being radical, political, and not caring what other people thought. My attitude back then was, “Fuck you and your intolerance!”
Over the last few years — perhaps with the wisdom of experience, age, and contemplation (not to diminish or judge my past) — I have been working to understand how humanity can embrace belonging and acceptance without prejudice.
Having pride is about living with authenticity.
This means that what I feel on the inside I can fully, openly, and freely express as my ‘self’, however that manifests as characteristics, mannerisms, dress, voice, and preferences.
Yes, living proudly still means that I may have to still justify and explain who I am to others. Living authentically means living who I am with honesty and without the fear of retribution or reprisal. It means that I can live in the moment without worrying about how I am perceived by others as possibly being different from them.
We are all similar and different at the same time, which is the naturally arising mutuality of human existence.
Fighting against or rejecting that truth is a lost battle against the nature of human nature.
Living with pride is a brave way of being.
It is one that is courageous and vulnerable all at the same time. Living proud may sometimes require a lot of effort and energy. The result is that your proud life makes the world a better, more humane place to be — simply because you show up and exist as who you are.
Highlights From My Past Reflections on Pride.
If You Had a Message to Your Younger, Queer Self, What Would it Be?
Just take the risk and not be afraid to be who you are. The shame that you may have felt is not your fault. That’s the conditioning of the status quo that made you believe that something was wrong with you, which is absolute bullshit. The more challenging it is to believe this, the more you are on the verge of living your authentic self.
Pride will always be political, so long as it continues to exist.
Pride, as a celebration — because it is celebrated — is a priori political because of its origins. Even for those for whom Pride only seems a big party, the nature, and the existence of Pride was built upon the foundations of a political movement.
The politics of pride are that of visibility, acceptance, and equality. Pride says to onlookers,
Take notice, we’re here, we’re queer, you need to see that we exist, and we will march, protest, or party in the streets to celebrate who we are, and that love is love.
How my eyes see things differently now.
I used to look at the world in a very black-and-white fashion, blinded by the extremes of the extremities. That’s the thing about ignorance; what you don’t know, you can’t perceive. Once you learn new things and see the falsehoods of what you used to believe — or the limitations of your past beliefs — there is no turning back.
In larger cities, Pride has mostly lost its original, foundational meaning and raison d’être. But honey, all things change. That is not a nod to forgetting or ignoring the past, rather it’s the awareness and acceptance of the fact that things change. Nothing remains constant in the universe.
However, I will take the commodification of pride any day over being marginalized, oppressed by the state, and being jailed for doing what the laws of the land may deem indecent. That doesn’t mean I won’t work to control or regulate what that commodification looks like! But on the whole, commodification means visibility.
As queer people, we need to work together for the rights of all.
We must work against ideologies, restrictive and fundamentalist religions, racism, sexism, and all forms of prejudice. What hurts us, hurts others, and vice versa. Equality for some is not equality at all.
When we celebrate, we marginalize. There will always be someone left out of our Pride celebrations. When we celebrate, without historical memory of where Pride came from, we risk marginalizing members of our LGTBQ collective. As much freedom as we feel we may have gained, we still don’t have humane rights for all — we only have human rights, which can be taken away by whoever is in power.
How can we make the spaces we inhabit more equitable for BIPOC People and especially those who are queer-identified?
There are multiple intersections of inequalities, systemic norms, laws, attitudes, and ideologies which demonstrate that it’s never a single issue that is the cause of prejudice, bigotry, and racism. Covid-19 has shown us the volatility and impermanence of everything we thought to be constant by disrupting our lives and society. As Jack Kornfield said in one of his podcasts, “If you don’t grow in love through the pandemic, somehow suffering will have won.”
We can take pride in who we are by unconditionally accepting ourselves.
Acceptance is another way of expressing love and we can’t love others until we accept ourselves. We can’t receive acceptance, connection, or care from others unless we love ourselves first. If we don’t accept who we are, or remain in the closet, we keep ourselves locked inside a box and block our authenticity from getting out and living free.
More Articles and Podcasts about Pride
- The Participation of Uniformed Police at Toronto Pride in 2019 — LOP089
- Deconstructing the Myth of Stonewall and its Influence on Mainstream Society — LOP091
- Interview with the Authors of “Out North: An Archive of Queer Activism and Kinship in Canada”
- Watch the video from Mark Tewksbury about the meaning of 2SLGBTQ+.