On Pride, Survival, and the Audacity to Thrive
Every June, it’s all rainbows. On July 1st, for companies and businesses, the colors get packed away. No matter what time of year, our members of the LGBTQIA2S+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Two Spirit +) community can’t put their colors away. We walk through the world every day with the reminder of who we are, who people think we are, what our community means to us, and what we’re up against, whether it’s oppressive legislation, discrimination, or violence. In what seems like an effort to suppress all attempts at inclusivity, Pride Month has become a point of debate. “What about straight pride?” – Dear friends, when your existence is historically prioritized and you benefit from dominant culture to the detriment of others, this is not a point of pride. It’s a point of immense privilege.
Contrary to right-wing talking points, Pride Month is not a hedonistic joyride for bragging about sex. Pride Month is a celebration of our queer community’s survival in a world that has tried so earnestly to make us hate ourselves, ostracize us from society, make us political pawns if not social pariahs, and extinguish us from existence - simply for being who we are, loving who we love, and living freely and honestly. We have not only survived, but we thrive up-current under the tremendous pressure of a dwindling-but-still-powerful population of tradition-hounds who are brashly judgmental and marred by black-and-white thinking. In its more radicalized forms - not for everyone, but equally valid - our orientation is meaningfully reclaimed. It is natural, it is ours. It is not depraved, nor is it harming anyone. Our love is freedom, and we have taken it back. We celebrate our survival in such a world. We commemorate the generations of LGBTQIA2S+ ancestors who came before us. We stand on the shoulders of giants.
The ring on my finger belongs to a woman who is publicly known as my wife. It is legal, it is normal, it is ours. We remember the many queer elders that came before us who fought hard and started riots so we could love who we want and be who we are in total freedom. To be proud is both a wonderful privilege and a fierce protest, because we are still fighting for these freedoms today. With every bathroom bill, with every act of aggression towards drag artists, with every act of hate towards trans kids - we continue to fight.
We are your siblings, your children, your friends, your doctors, your neighbors. We make your coffee, we teach your children, we make your laws, we fix your cars, we serve your food. We sit next to you at the movies, on planes, at weddings, at funerals. We’re here and we always have been. While this moment in time is not perfect whatsoever, many of us have the fortune of existing in a timeline where we do not need permission to be proud.
As a community, our story is much like that of a lotus flower: blooming from the mud, reaching towards the sun – beautiful, seemingly delicate yet extremely resilient to the elements conspiring against it. Self-nurtured. Abundant in color, in glory, and so sacred in its existence. That is who we are as queer people. We are beautiful and adaptable survivors who are skilled in the art of perseverance and hell-bent on blooming despite the climate.
May you continue to bloom strong and bright. May your blossom prove impossible miracles to other seeds so that they too can summon the courage to grow and change the landscape. Be proud.
Kendra Arciniega is a community organizer and showrunner for Arciniega Street Productions – follow @ArciniegaStreet for information on upcoming events.