It is June 24th and I have almost forgotten it is Pride month.
This may not be a big deal to you, but as a lesbian woman, this bothers me.
It slowly eats at me that I do not feel like I am “prideful” enough. Sure, I have endured that awkward phase of coming out. That year-long life journey where you decide that you are different than everyone else around you. That walk down the road just as often traveled but paved over in the hopes that no one will follow you down it. Paved over by societal norms and religious affiliations. I went through three girlfriends and five hairstyles that year—wow, is this pride?
I experienced my own bullying by those who chose not to understand me. I spent a few days in a hospital after being beaten at 18 years old by two young men who, upon hearing me speak while walking down the street holding my girlfriend’s hand, decided that my love of women deserved some broken ribs and a connect-the-dots-esque array of black and blue on my body.
You assume I should be furious, right? I should be raging against the machine, harboring anger and resentment and nothing but disregard for my heterosexual counterparts. Is this pride?
Now, as an adult—or so they tell me—I should be firmly grounded in my identity as a lesbian woman. I should be able to walk around freely, sticking it to the man by not sticking with a man. My demeanor should be that of someone who is constantly angsty and ready to take on anyone (anyone!) who looks in my direction and offers anything less than complete acceptance. My pride should shine brighter than those colors on the rainbow I should have hanging up in all areas of my life. My past traumas should be the gasoline that begins the dumpster fire ignited by the match stick that is my words.
This and only this is how I show my pride. But is this pride?
“Should is a futile word. It’s about what didn’t happen. It belongs in a parallel universe. It belongs in another dimension of space.” ~ Margaret Atwood
Needless to say, the mountain that is “should” is suffocating me beneath its avalanche of pressure. Only recently have I ever felt like I am not “gay enough” or “prideful enough” or “loud enough” to bump shoulders with my community. I haven’t forgotten Pride month because it is not important to me. I haven’t forgotten that these 30 days of rainbow-colored parties were preceded by years of blood, sweat, and tears. I haven’t forgotten my community, nor has it ever dawned on me that those who suffered were worthy of anything less than an entire month of focused praise. Hell, in my opinion, one month is not enough to honor those who lost their lives when they finally decided to live it authentically.
What I have done is silence my voice because society tells me it isn’t loud enough, it isn’t angry enough. It tells me my voice isn’t enough.
What I have forgotten is that my expression of pride is mine.
My expression is all mine.
My prideful moments come to me when I check out at a grocery store. In that brief interaction where the cashier calls me sir because I have short hair and a button up on. My pride shines through when I am able to correct her without feeling angry, nor as if I may shed tears from embarrassment.
My prideful moments come to me when I use a public restroom. In that brief moment when I walk into the gender labeled bathroom and refuse to pay attention to the man who just let me know that, “Sir, you are entering the women’s restroom.”
Have you ever mapped out your entire day just to make sure you never need to use the public restroom? I have. For the first five years I was out of the closet. The fact that I am comfortable enough to no longer do this is prideful in my opinion.
Lastly, my prideful moments come from the community I call home. Watching my community fight, protest, write letters to local and national government, shed tears of frustration and happiness, or, like me, have the courage to wake up every day and go into the world living life authentically.
You know what pisses off the naysayers more than anything? Your peace. Give them so much of your peace they choke on it over morning coffee. Throw your peace at them at lightning speeds and watch how quickly their resolve crumbles.
Happy Pride Month to all of you! (And I mean all of you!)
All of you doing whatever it is out there that fills your soul with pride and peace. I support you in your endeavors and hope you can see me and support me in mine.