As we NuNu and I began our platform Wait! Don’t Do It, all we had was a microphone and a dream. We never conceptualized what our mission was or where we wanted to go with it, but we knew we had an experience to share. We hoped that our opinions would be echoed back to us, in order to create space for important dialogue surrounding things like race, gender, and sex and queer folk. Our platform has allowed us, two black and latino queers from North Carolina and New York to share the other side of the gay coin. It helped us center ourselves on the billboard that still is mostly occupied for white cis men. THAT is what pride is. The ability to hold space for yourself and others who don’t get the opportunity to get the spotlight. Pride is not only a celebration of the gay experience, but also a reminder to queer folk that we are deserving of space and acknowledgment,
Pride is about creating community amongst LGBTQ people, NOT commercial gain that keeps us a demographic. Pride is about reflection, honesty, and joy. Pride is having support when you don’t know the answers.
Like so many people in the world, we’ve struggled and sometimes continue to struggle with our identity. Questions that come up are, “Who am I and how do I want to live my life?” These questions, we believe, won’t be resolved in our lifetime but we begin to answer them by living authentically and proudly.
In our cultures, we are told to hide who we are and the idea of pride only applies to race and ethnicity. But what about pride in our identity?
Reflection (and I’m not talking about the song from Mulan even though I am partial to the Christina Aguilera version) is holding a mirror to not only our physical image but who we are, who we have been, and where we are going.
Honesty, ironically, is what most of us fear the most. We are terrified of not knowing the answers, of not being accepted, and of not being who we really are. Coming out of the closet is still one of the most significant events that happen in the lives of queer people as it involves the announcement and acceptance of our truths. And unlike heterosexual people, our community is forced to realize not only the truths of our identity but the world around us. While it is scary to come out, our honesty scares those who continue to hide and don’t allow themselves to express who they really are. That is our magic and our power.
Joy is what keeps us going. It is the joy of being alive, in putting on a wig and heels for the first time. It is having too much fun with friends and strangers at a bar or festival and not caring who stares because you live out loud without fear. It is the joy that keeps the LGBTQ+ community sustained in the idea that our fears, our struggles, and our trauma are no match for pure happiness. Joy helps build community, which has been the foundation to bring us together. As queer people, sometimes we have family the their backs to us, but is through our chose family, we are able to make it through the toughest times. Our friendship has been the greatest testament to that.
No matter the month, day, or year, Pride is year round and we have to ensure to never dim our shine for the fear of not being accepted by society. We are more than the boxes we put ourselves in and we are more than what we are told we can be. We are an experience and we should live this life proudly. Being queer is about having people in your corner, during those moments questions take over. So even though we never know where this journey takes us, we have community and friends to bring us together.