In the last 15 days there has been post after post wishing everyone a happy, and safe, Pride month. There have been posts which read: "Wishing all of the homophobes a super uncomfortable Pride Month!" Even I shared that one with a promise to be extra gay for the inconvenience of those who believe my existence is a farce, isn't real, is a demon, is something other than natural. But, being LGBTQ+ is natural.
When I was in high school I was loudly out and proud. I put on an air of confidence and wore a rainbow cape for six months. But I was also unsure if who I was could be loved by any god but in particular, the Christian god. My upbringing was not religious. That was never the problem my family had with me being queer. But the Christianity that was in my life did not stress a message that I was loved no matter who I loved, no matter what gender I was. To be clear, it didn't stress hate either, but I never saw people like me welcomed with open arms as they were open about who they were. And I still managed to drink the "Christian koolaid" that told me I was damned to a fire and brimstone hell for being queer. I desperately fought for others to be loved as who they were while I believed I was going to hell for who, and what I was.
I think it takes far less hate to make a person dislike themselves, than it does love to make us love ourselves. We can be told over and over again and very clearly we are loved as is; but the quieter messages of society, of other peoples' faiths seep in and it is easier to hate who we are than to love ourselves. It takes barrels of love to be secure in who we are and only a teaspoon of hate, or just disregard to believe we don't deserve the same rights as other people do.
So, it's pride month. The first pride was the one year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising--often referred to as the Stonewall Riots. It brough gay and lesbian people together even as it shunned some of the magnificent people who helped bring that uprising to fruition:
What is often erased from the narrative LGBTQI+ communities present about the legends of the movement is that in 1970, the debut of the beloved Gay Pride parade, Johnson, along with her longtime friend Sylvia Rivera, started the Street Transv***ite Action Revolutionaries (STAR, 1970-73) to provide shelter and support for homeless trans youth. This was the same year Johnson was rudely jeered off stage as she attempted to preach acceptance to a predominantly white, male crowd during the Pride celebration. (MamaBlack.org)
Marsha P. Johnson is often credited as the one to throw the first brick during the Stonewall Uprising but she never claimed that role. Yet, as she and Sylvia Rivera organized on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community, including the T which at that time meant something similar yet different than transgender (the word is now most commonly seen as a slur), she became replaceable by the primarily white, gay, male organizers of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). Then, and now, even in our own communities, there are people who do not fight for trans rights as they fight for the rights of other gender and sexual minorities. They instead draw distinctions that separate gender variant, trans, nonbinary, gender queer, gender fluid, etc. folks, from the rest of the LGBQ communities. They thrown trans+ people under the metaphorical, and sometimes literal, bus to gain rights for those who are queer but don't mess with the standards of the gender binary quite so much.
All of this plays a role in why I choose to be visibly queer, lesbian, nonbinary, trans, gender disobedient (link to my Gender Disobedient merch). I am visible because I want to fill the world with more active love than passive hate. I am visible not so you know what anatomy I was born with, or who I might be taking to bed at the end of the night; but because somewhere out there a young or closeted LGBTQ+ person is looking for an example of what their life could be. I am visible because 1.8 million LGBTQ+ youth consider taking their own lives each year (TheTrevorProject.org) and because:
suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 10 to 24 (Hedegaard, Curtin, & Warner, 2018) — and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth are at significantly increased risk. (TheTrevorProject.org)
I am visible, and make LGBTQ+ positive content and merchandise because after I got kicked out of the "church" I went to in high school, that taught me I was better off dead than queer, I found an Open and Affirming congregation that taught me "Hate cannot drown out hate, only love can do that." I still struggle with the hateful lessons I have been taught explicitly and implicitly by society, by the US government, by specific kinds of "Christianity" and other religions, even while I am busy being loved by my chosen family, even while I would no longer call myself a Christian. So, I am visible for other people to see life can go on. I am visible for other people to see and say "They did it. So can I." I am visible because if I can draw the hate towards me and away from people who don't have the affirming community I have taken years to build, it is worth every second.
LGBTQ+ people aren't shoving who we are in your face, we are simply living with the audacity to believe we deserve basic respect and human kindness and to live free of closets. My name is Casey Anne Brimmer, I use they/them pronouns. I am a queer, nonbinary, gender disobedient, lesbian and I am visible because I can say: It got better.
Note from the Author:
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