Category Archives: Pride

Moment of Zen: Pride


Pride Weekend 🏳️‍🌈

If I had this body, I might try to pull off a similar “outfit.” 😂 

Vermont Pride is upon us this weekend. While technically Vermont Pride has been going on all week, tonight is the first even I will be going to. Tonight is the Pride Ball. I mentioned this a few weeks ago when I asked for advice about an outfit. I couldn’t find anything I really wanted to wear. That’s not exactly true, I did find a few shirts, but none of them were in my size, or if they were in my size, they were slim fit. Usually, slim fit shirts don’t exactly work well for me. So, instead of something flashy and bold, I will be a bit more low key.

The description says, “Bring your rainbow power and kick off Pride Weekend in Burlington!” I am going to let my rainbow power show in a subtle way. I have a white polo shirt that is trimmed with rainbow colors and a rainbow belt. I’ll wear light colored jeans with my polo and white sneakers with rainbow shoelaces. I’m not a big rainbow kind of guy, so I think this will suffice.

The Pride Center of Vermont will host the Pride Parade and Festival on Sunday; the parade takes place from 12:30-1:00 pm. The Festival will be from 1-4 pm, and then from 4-9 pm, the Burly Bears will end the weekend with the Burly Bear’s Pride Closing Party. However, I’m not sure they will be doing this as they have not posted anything about it on their Facebook page. We’ll see, I’m going with my neighbor who’s a drag show fanatic. (She is like a RuPaul’s Drag Race Encyclopedia.) If she wants to stay for the Burly Bears closing party, then we will. For now, we’ll play it by ear.


Advice Needed

I need a tasteful but colorful rainbow themed outfit for this year’s Pride Ball in Burlington. As I’ve mentioned before, Vermont has their big pride celebrations in September not June. This year, it will be the first weekend in September with the Pride Ball on Friday September 3, and the parade and festival on Sunday September 5. The description for the Ball says:

Bring your rainbow power and kick off Pride Weekend in Burlington! The sparkle and shine get elevated even further with a huge drag show. 

I’d like to have something that maybe sparkles and shines, but I am rarely one to be too flashy. However, I’d kind of like at least to be colorful without being overly tacky. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I searched Amazon, but mostly they just have t-shirts, and I’d like to wear a button up shirt. I have my two polo shirts (one blue, one white) subtly trimmed in rainbow colors, but I’d like to be a little less subtle without being overboard. I have three weeks to find something.

Usually, I do good at getting outfits for these things, but this time I am at a loss. So much pride merchandise is so incredibly tacky, or they are made for extremely skinny people. I need something that will be relaxing to wear, hopefully will go with jeans (though I don’t mind wearing pants), look somewhat fashionable, and be stylish. Is that too much to ask? Probably, but you guys more than likely have a better sense of fashion than me.

Help! Any suggestions?


Pride Doesn’t End 🏳️‍🌈

Here is an excerpt from President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.’s June 1, 2021 Proclamation on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Pride Month:

The uprising at the Stonewall Inn in June, 1969, sparked a liberation movement — a call to action that continues to inspire us to live up to our Nation’s promise of equality, liberty, and justice for all.  Pride is a time to recall the trials the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) community has endured and to rejoice in the triumphs of trailblazing individuals who have bravely fought — and continue to fight — for full equality.  Pride is both a jubilant communal celebration of visibility and a personal celebration of self-worth and dignity.  

While June is coming to an end, our pride doesn’t have to. All of the celebrations of pride should continue year round. The companies that show support for the LGBTQ+ community with rainbow themed marketing strategies need to continue to advocate for LGBTQ+ equality. Our politicians, community leaders, businesses, etc. need to do tie to to support “our Nation’s promise of equality, liberty, and justice for all.

This Pride Month, we have recognized the valuable contributions of LGBTQ+ individuals across America, and we have reaffirmed a commitment to advocate for LGBTQ+ Americans as we struggle against discrimination and injustice. This cannot end as the month of June ends. Until LGBTQ+ Americans have full equality and protection under the law, we cannot let up. We still have a lot of work to do. My dream is that one day no LGBTQ+ individual will ever have to fear coming out, we will never have to hide who we are, and our sexuality for all the many interpretations on the sexual spectrum. 


A Queerification

A Queerification
By Regie Cabico

—for Creativity and Crisis at the National Mall

queer me
shift me
transgress me
tell my students i’m gay
tell chick fil a i’m queer
tell the new york times i’m straight
tell the mail man i’m a lesbian
tell american airlines
i don’t know what my gender is
like me
liking you
like summer blockbuster armrest dates
armrest cinematic love
elbow to forearm in the dark
humor me queerly
fill me with laughter
make me high with queer gas
decompress me from centuries of spanish inquisition
& self-righteous judgment
like the blood my blood
that has mixed w/ the colonizer
& the colonized
in the extinct & instinct to love
bust memories of water & heat
& hot & breath
beating skin on skin fluttering
bruise me into vapors
bleed me into air
fly me over sub-saharan africa & asia & antarctica
explode me from the closet of my fears
graffiti me out of doubt
bend me like bamboo
propose to me
divorce me
divide me into your spirit 2 spirit half spirit
& shadow me w/ fluttering tongues
& caresses beyond head
heart chakras
fist smashing djembes
between my hesitations
haiku me into 17 bursts of blossoms & cold saki
de-ethnicize me
de-clothe me
de-gender me in brassieres
& prosthetic genitalias
burn me on a brazier
wearing a brassiere
in bitch braggadocio soprano bass
magnificat me in vespers
of hallelujah & amen
libate me in halos
heal me in halls of femmy troubadors
announcing my hiv status
or your status
i am not afraid to love you
implant dialects as if they were lilacs
in my ear
medicate me with a lick & a like
i am not afraid to love you
so demand me
reclaim me
queerify me

About the Poet

Regie Cabico’s work appears in over 30 anthologies including The Spoken Word Revolution (Sourcebooks, 2003)Chorus & The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry (Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1999), and Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café (Henry Holt and Company, 1994). He is the co-editor of Flicker & Spark: A Contemporary Anthology of Queer Poetry and Spoken Word (Lowbrow Press, 2013), nominated for a 2014 Lambda Literary Award. He is the Youth Program Coordinator for Split this Rock Poetry Festival.

 

🏳️‍🌈 LGBT POETS FOR PRIDE MONTH 🏳️‍🌈


LGBTQ+ Pride and the White House

The White House has installed an exhibit dedicated to “celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride Month 2021” on the Ground Floor Corridor. The exhibit is the first physical display of historical items dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community. The items were borrowed from the Smithsonian Institution and in partnership with the Smithsonian’s National Museum on American History.

The exhibit features artifacts from historic LGBTQ+ community figures like Harvey Milk, Marsha P. Johnson, and Jerame Davis, the former executive director of National Stonewall Democrats. Another figure highlighted in the exhibit is Rose Cleveland, who was the sister of the 23rd and 25th President, Grover Cleveland.

“Rose Cleveland, President Grover Cleveland’s sister, served in the role of White House hostess until his marriage in 1886,” the exhibit reads. “For almost 30 years, Rose Cleveland maintained a romantic relationship with Evangeline Marrs Simpson Whipple. The women lived together in Italy from 1910, until Rose’s death from the Spanish flu in 1918.” The exhibit notes that Rose and Evangeline rest “side by side” in Italy today. Correspondence between them was published in 2019 by the Whipple Collection from the Minnesota Historical Society, where they are housed today.

There are artifacts describing major events in LGBTQ+ history such as the Stonewall Riots and the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. Photos shared online show the corridor illuminated in Pride colors, the first known time in history, the Advocate reports.

LGBTQ+ activist, columnist and Philadelphia Gay News founder Mark Segal reported that upon visiting the National Museum this week, personal artifacts of his “from that first Pride in 1970, which we called Christopher Street Liberation Day March” were among those included in a series of items shared with the White House. The items included a flyer given out over 50 years ago promoting the march and Segal’s marshal badge worn that day. “That 18-year-old boy at Stonewall never expected that not only would he be asked to dance with his husband at the White House, but that one of his personal artifacts would be on display there,” Segal wrote. “Fifty-two years ago that was inconceivable to me. Now, it’s a joyous reality.”

The exhibit is curated from the LGBT Pride exhibits currently at the Smithsonian’s American History Museum. One is the “Illegal to be You: Gay History Beyond Stonewall” exhibition on display at the museum since 2019, and planned to close on July 6, 2021. The items I took he ongoing Smithsonian exhibit showcase different aspects of LGBTQ+ American history, activism and the “everyday experience of being queer,” according to curator Katherine Ott. The display includes knives used to lobotomize gay men during the ’70s, lab equipment from 1980s HIV researcher Jay Levy, a full figure skating costume from gay Olympian Brian Boitano, shoes from trans tennis player Renée Richards and cosmetics used by irreverent gay director John Waters.

LGBTQ+ Pride Month was established by President Bill Clinton in June 1999, though back then it was called Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. Clinton said at the time that he signed the 1998 executive order that made it possible for people of any sexual orientation to work in the federal government and to receive security clearances. “Today, more openly gay and lesbian individuals serve in senior posts throughout the Federal Government than during any other Administration,” Clinton’s June 2000 proclamation stated.

The previous twice impeached, traitor’s administration did not even acknowledge Pride Month until 2019, and only half-heartedly then. In the first two and a half years of that administration, the former president took numerous steps to curtail LGBTQ+ rights, from nominating judges aligned with anti-gay hate groups to banning transgender people from the military. George W. Bush declined to recognize June as Pride Month during his eight year administration.

President Barack Obama issued a proclamation every year he was in office. “All people deserve to live with dignity and respect, free from fear and violence, and protected against discrimination, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation,” Obama’s June 2015 proclamation read. “During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, we celebrate the proud legacy LGBT individuals have woven into the fabric of our Nation, we honor those who have fought to perfect our Union, and we continue our work to build a society where every child grows up knowing that their country supports them, is proud of them, and has a place for them exactly as they are.”

On June 25, President Biden declared “pride is back at the White House,” delivering remarks in a day of events intended to mark the contributions of LGBTQ+ Americans. He spoke after signing H.R. 49, which designates the site of the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting as the “National Pulse Memorial.” Biden recognized that much work remains to be done to give equal rights and protections to LGBTQ Americans. The president invoked Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in California, and said he was right when he said it “takes no compromise to give people their rights.” He called on the Senate to pass the Equality Act to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ people.

“When a same-sex couple can be married in the morning but denied a lease in the afternoon for being gay, something’s still wrong,” Biden said. “Over half of our states — in over half of our states, LBGTQ+ Americans still lack explicit state-level civil rights protections to shield them from discrimination. As I said as a presidential candidate and in my first joint address to Congress, it’s time for the United States Senate to pass the Equality Act and put the legislation on my desk. On my desk.” 

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg spoke before the president was introduced, and both the secretary and Biden gave a shout-out to Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten. “Us even being here proves how much change is possible in America,” Buttigieg said. Also at the Friday afternoon ceremony were members of the Congressional Equality Congress, including Senator Tammy Baldwin and Congressman David Cicilline; one of the highest-ranking openly trans service members, Lieutenant-Colonel Bree Fram; and state legislators.


What Is Our Authentic Self?

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

— Exodus 20:16

I was trying to come up with an LGBTQ+ Pride topic for this week’s Sunday post. I decided to write about being our “authentic self.” Isn’t that a large part of coming out? We want to be true to ourselves and to stop lying to others about who we really are. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” is the ninth commandment (the designation varies between religions) of the Ten Commandments. According to the New Testament, Jesus explains that obedience to the prohibition against false testimony from the ten commandments is a requirement for eternal life. According to Jesus, false testimony comes from the sinful desires of the heart and makes people unclean.

However, when I googled “the bible and authentic self” most articles are about how Christians should resist being their authentic selves. One piece said, “To those who are of the world, ‘be yourself’ means speak your mind, don’t hold anything back, love yourself more than anyone else, and openly reject anyone you just don’t like. The advice to ‘be yourself’ can quickly turn into an excuse to be unfriendly and overly blunt.” The problem with this is that this statement is only valid if you are a terrible person. “Love yourself more than anyone else, and openly reject anyone you just don’t like.” While that sounds like a lot of Christians I know today who reject those who aren’t like themselves, it is certainly not in the spirit of the Bible. Another article Sue Bohlin, a speaker/writer and “webmistress” for Probe Ministries, lays out precisely why so many Christians fear authenticity, “In today’s culture, coming out and admitting you’re gay is applauded as ‘being authentic.’ Claiming you are a man trapped in a woman’s body, or vice versa, is ‘being authentic.’ But refusing to accept such labels means you’re inauthentic.” The Bohlin goes on to say:

More and more Christians are throwing in the towel in their fight against unholy sexual and relational temptations, claiming to follow their “authentic self.” Even worse, a growing number of churches are doing something similar by embracing same-sex marriage. I have a question for them. If God really created them to be gay and blesses that identity today, what will happen a hundred years from today? Will there be homosexuality in heaven? There will be no sex in heaven because the only marriage will be between the Church and the Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ. If one’s identity is wrapped up in same-sex attractions, as it is by those claiming to be “gay Christians,” who will they be when all sexual and relational brokenness is a thing of the past, a mere memory of earthly life?

I suggest that a believer’s true and real and lasting “authentic self” is all wrapped up in not who we say we are, but who God says we are: His beloved child, redeemed and purified and made holy as He is holy. Chosen, accepted, and included a citizen of heaven and a member of God’s household. Belonging to Jesus because He bought us with His very lifeblood. Sealed with the Spirit, made brand new from the inside out.

There is a MAJOR flaw to her argument. When she says, “A believer’s true and real and lasting “authentic self” is all wrapped up in not who we say we are, but who God says we are,” is her fatal flaw. Our authentic self is who God says we are. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image.” John 1:3 says, “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” God made us. He made us in his image. Therefore, if we are gay, God is also gay. God is also straight, bisexual, transgender, asexual, etc. He represents all things because he created everything; therefore, he is every part of every aspect of the spectrum of sexuality.

The most significant issue is that most Christians are closed-minded and narrowly focused on their beliefs. They pick and choose what Bible verses they want to follow and ignore those inconvenient for them. For example, they condemn LGBTQ+ people, but they do not condemn divorce of which Jesus does condemn in the Sermon on the Mount. Yet, what is most curious is that if homosexuality was so wrong (an abomination), why did Jesus never mention it, not even once? Furthermore, LGBTQ+ issues are not discussed anywhere by any of the New Testament authors. Yes, there is a verse that is often misinterpreted in Leviticus to condemn homosexuality, but if Christians follow that one verse from Leviticus, then shouldn’t they also follow all of the other prohibitions from Leviticus?

Leviticus 18:22 prohibits male same-sex intercourse, and Leviticus 20:13 prescribes the death penalty for violators. But Christians have never lived under the Old Testament law. The Old Testament contains 613 commandments for God’s people to follow. Leviticus includes rules about offerings, clean and unclean foods, diseases, bodily discharges, sexual taboos, and priestly conduct. But the New Testament teaches that Christ’s death and resurrection fulfilled the law, which is why its many rules and regulations have never applied to Christians. Romans 10:4 says, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” Colossians 2:13-14 says, “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” Hebrews 8:13 says, “In that he saith, A new covenant [New Testament/Jesus’s Teachings]*, he hath made the first old [Old Testament/Laws of Moses]*. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.”

Even greater than cherry-picking verses from the Bible, many heterosexual Christians often still claim that sexuality is a choice. Because of their close-mindedness, they cannot understand that LGBTQ+ individuals are born this way. They were created by God in his image, in all the various degrees of sexuality. They are often so small-minded that they cannot imagine being born anyway other than cisgender heterosexuals. They do not want to open their minds to God’s true words because then they may have to look at themselves and see their own flaws. The only choice we have about our sexuality is whether or not we choose to be our authentic selves the way God created us.

As members of the LGBTQ+ community, so many of us for so long have been taught to be ashamed of who we are because we do not fit the predominant image and standard profile of acceptable persons. We have been taught to look at ourselves through lenses that cannot see our true beauty and essence as citizens in society, as people of God, and as children of the greater universe. When we look at ourselves, we must try as best we can to see everything there, but this is sometimes hard to do without a genuine desire to take a hard look and see what’s there, to view ourselves clearly, squarely, and freely. The beauty and goodness of what we see sometimes give way to the not so beautiful things that we see, say, and do. We must cast aside all fear in taking that honest look if we are to grow into a greater awareness of who we really are and what we can ultimately become as genuine persons of promise and value. 

*Added for clarification.


A Beautiful Message

During It Gets Better Project’s 2021 Digital Pride Experience, they got a little surprise visit from the White House: President Joe Biden sent in a message of support for LGBTQ+ Youth.

🏳️‍🌈 The It Gets Better Project exists to uplift, empower, and connect LGBTQ+ youth around the globe. To learn more and get involved, follow them here:


Todrick Hall

If you watch RuPaul’s Drag Race (RPDR), then you likely know who Todrick Hall is. I’ve always found him incredibly sexy, and I do like some of his music. Starting with season eight, Hall became a resident choreographer and occasional judge on RPDR. In addition to RPDR, Hall is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, actor, director, choreographer, and YouTuber. He gained national attention on the ninth season of the televised singing competition American Idol, where he made it to the semi-finals. Following this, he amassed a following on YouTube with viral videos including original songs, parodies, and skits. He aspires to be a role model for LGBTQ+ and people of color, and includes his experiences as a Black gay man in his art. 

As a singer-songwriter he has released four studio albums, including the visual albums Straight Outta Oz (2016) and Forbidden (2018). In 2020 he released an EP, Quarantine Queen, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic featuring “Mask, Gloves, Soap, Scrub,” and was the international host of Global Pride 2020. On June 8, 2021, Hall released his fourth studio album, Femuline, which was preceded by the singles “Boys in the Ocean” and “Rainin’ Fellas.” The album is inspired by gay pride and features appearances from Chaka Khan, Tyra Banks, Brandy, Nicole Scherzinger and Ts Madison. He’s also released trilogy of EPs titled Haus Party, Pt. 1, Haus Party, Pt. 2, and Haus Party, Pt. 3.

I particularly enjoy two of his songs. One of them is his new release “Rainin’ Fellas,” and the other is his 2019 song “I Like Boys” from his EP Haus Party, Pt. 1.


Pride🏳️‍🌈, Not Prejudice

Randolfe Wicker was wearing a black suit and tie when he participated in what’s thought to be the first U.S. picket for gay civil rights, which took place in New York City in 1964. He wore it when he answered questions on-air in 1965 as one of the first openly gay men to appear on television. And he donned that suit again when he protested New York’s prohibition against serving gay patrons during a “sip-in” in 1966. Wicker jokes that he looked like a preacher for most of the 1960s—but for one of the earliest LGBTQ+ activists, it was a political choice.

Wicker believed that being perceived as respectable would gain LGBTQ+ individuals civil rights. He told Time Magazinethat, “A black suit and tie works wonders anywhere, because if you wear a black suit and tie people will stop and listen to you and consider what you have to say. It was assumed we [gay men] were mentally ill; it was considered that we were certainly criminals, and we were also considered to be morally depraved. But people would still sit and listen to you, and that’s the beginning of a conversation.” But was it?

Wicker was a member of the Mattachine Society (Initially called the Mattachine Foundation), which began as a secret organization in Los Angeles in 1950, with their first Statement of Purpose drawn up in 1951. The group was founded by Communist organizer Harry Hay and other leftists, including Bob Hull, Chuck Rowland, Dale Jennings, Konrad Stevens, James Gruber, and Rudi Gernreich (Jewish Refugee). The Mattachine founders borrowed the initial structure of the organization from the Communist Party, and the leadership, the “fifth order,” was anonymous, so members didn’t even know their names. The Mattachine Society became one of several prominent groups organizing during the period of LGBTQ+ activism referred to as the Homophile Movement.

Thousands of men and women across the country were arrested on charges related to their sexuality each year throughout the 1950s. In California, certain sodomy convictions could carry a maximum sentence of life in prison. And even when the charges resulted in a slap on the wrist from a judge, an accusation could result in the loss of jobs or even homes. But after Mattachine co-founder Dale Jennings was followed and harassed by a police officer, the society mounted a defense—and won the case. Within just a few years, the group would grow to include thousands of members across the country in places like New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco. But, while the Mattachine society believed respectability was the best path to civil rights, the organization’s ties to the Communist Party USA were always a problem for gaining any respectability.

The arguments for respectability politics have continued to be part of civil rights strategy in all areas of civil rights. We saw this during the BLM riots last summer, and we see it in LGBTQ+ individuals who condemn gay pride celebrations for its (sometimes) outlandish aspects. Here’s the problem respectability politics; they don’t work. They are based on a false notion that says if only we behave, if only we play by the rules, if only we are good enough, then the church will love and accept us. But it’s not true. Because even if we tell our detractors that we are celibate, they still think we are having sex. (Trust me, I know this firsthand from my mother.) And even when we quote the Bible to them, they still distrust our reading of it. Even when we dress like them, talk like them, and marry like them, they are still waiting for us to mess up so they can discredit us. And if we play into respectability politics, we are working against liberation. We are saying, “I’m not like the rest of the LGBTQ+ community. I’m one of the good ones.” And by saying that, we allow straight and cisgender people to say it as well, and suddenly the “bad queers” are pushed to the side, or worse, pushed out entirely.

Respectability politics set up a hierarchy that allows straight and cisgender people to hold up the “good gays” and silence the “bad gays.” And who are the bad gays? We are anyone who believes that liberation should be for the whole LGBTQ+ community. We are the ones who get angry or raise our voices about injustice. We are the ones who say that it’s not okay for allies to speak over the LGBTQ+ community. We are the ones who say that there is more than one way to be LGBTQ+ (it’s the reason for the “+”). We don’t have to be celibate, and we can medically transition if that’s what’s right for us. We are the ones who dress the way we want. We act the way we want. We are proud of who we are and every aspect of the gay community. Maybe something is not your cup of tea, but that doesn’t make it wrong. I love drag queens, but I have no desire to be one. I love seeing men in skimpy outfits at Pride, but am I comfortable doing the same? No, I’m not, but if I had their body (or body positivity), then I might be right there with them.

When the people who hate us come for us (and they will), they won’t care if we have conformed to some false heteronormativity. They won’t care that we are white, dress nice, and toe the line. They will look at us as if we are just like all of the other members of the LGBTQ+ community, the ones that you have said you aren’t like. They won’t see the differences between us. They will lump us all together. In that moment, your respectability will not save you. They will still say that you don’t have a place in their churches, you don’t deserve to have civil rights, and it would be better off if you would just go away. Setting up this hierarchy allows people to control us. It also allows people to say who deserves respect and rights. They say only those who toe the line and behave deserve rights. They think you only deserve respect if you are polite and don’t get angry and speak softly, yet it will always be false respect if they ever give it at all. When it comes time to allow us civil rights, they will have a myriad of excuses for why we don’t deserve equal or civil rights.

You can live however you want. You can choose celibacy, singleness, or marriage for yourself; that is not the issue here. But when you demand it from other people or when you set it up so that your choice is the one that is acceptable by the straight and cisgender people, you become part of the problem. Liberation is about liberation for all of us, and if it’s not liberation for all of us, then it’s not liberation at all. When you narrow the rules so that only the “good” get in, you’re not actually working for liberation. You’re working so that someone else’s rules and priorities can define us, and that’s not good enough. We all deserve to be free.

For many years, I cared deeply about acceptance by my family and friends in Alabama. I wanted my parents to see that I am who I have always been and that there is no shame in my gayness. In recent years, I have realized, they will never change their minds. I watched them throw their support behind our former, twice-impeached president when he represented everything my parents taught me not to be. (I even pointed that out to them, but it got me a dial tone on the other end of the line.) They relished in his hate and lies. I realized that if they could turn against all they believed to “better” call themselves Christian; then they would never accept me for being gay. One thing this pandemic has done is that it has kept me away for a year and a half (two years if I go back down at Christmas, which I probably will). At first, I was sad I would miss them last Christmas, but I got over it. I didn’t want their constant judgment and to be forced to “be straight.” I hope and pray that I will have the courage to be who I am when I go back to Alabama to visit my family the next time.

In the LGBTQ+ community, some criticize pride parades because they see them as having an undue emphasis on sex and fetish-related interests. They claim this as counterproductive to LGBTQ+ interests and expose the “gay community” to ridicule. However, traditional media outlets often emphasize the most outlandish and non-representative aspects of the community. The main issue is not whether gay people will be ridiculed for the sometimes outlandish and sexualized aspects of LGBTQ+ pride parades, but that pride parades are visibility. We aren’t going to change anyone’s opinion of us by being “respectable” during pride events. When I was growing up in Alabama, I never remember any pride parades in the state, though Birmingham has had a pride parade since 1989. As pride parades have become more common, in addition to Birmingham, there are celebrations from Huntsville to Mobile. The same is true of Mississippi. I think Jackson had a pride parade when I lived in Mississippi from 2000-2009, but now, pride parades are held across the states. 

The fact that there are pride parades in states like Alabama and Mississippi shows that LGBTQ+ visibility has increased in the United States in the past 20 or so years. Pride parades are not just for big cities anymore. When I moved to Vermont, the only pride parade was in Burlington, but now there are celebrations in Montpelier, Rutland, and Bennington. Visibility is the primary goal of LGBTQ+ pride, but it’s also about belonging. Respectability politics is counterproductive to LGBTQ+ visibility. It forces us to hide and pretend to be something contrary to who we are. The variety of expression at LGBTQ+ pride events shows the diversity of our community. It brings out of the margins all of our community to proudly proclaim, “We’re here. We’re queer. Get used to it!” because we aren’t going anywhere. We don’t need acceptance. We don’t need approval. We don’t need permission. We need liberation.