If you found yourself slacking off on Pride month’s celebratory spirit this year, you’re not alone. Many queer folks, exhausted by the ongoing pandemic and relentless transphobia in the news, spent the month binge-watching Feel Good and taking naps with the pets we all adopted last year.
But even if you attended a few online events, or masked up for an in-person festival, you might be feeling a little less glittery by now. The world feels less inviting when there’s nobody wearing rainbow suspenders or trans pride tutus while Lil Nas X plays from speakers a passing float.
If you – like me – need to get some of that Pride month sparkle back, I’ve got a few suggestions!
Look forward – and back.
History and progress are precious to any marginalized community. These things connect us to stories of resilience, and provide hope for a more free future.
If you’re interested in our history, there are tons of ways you can connect with the past. Pride – a six episode docuseries – is an emotionally captivating look at the fight for queer rights from multiple angles. Books like Queer: A Graphic History, Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity, and We Are Everywhere shed light on the queer history often obfuscated in classrooms. Oregon State University has a (non-exhaustive) list of LGBT+ history repositories and archiving projects. Youtubers like Matt Baume, Coming Out Black, and Jessica Kellgren-Fozard talk about queer people and moments in history and media.
Online queer publications like Autostraddle, Wear Your Voice, Them, and Advocate, are staffed by LGBT+ writers, sharing queer news, POV essays, and insights into media of the past and the present. If you prefer longform reads, your local queer bookshop probably has a new releases wall to peruse.
I make sure all of my social media feeds are LGBT majority. Influencers gotta influence – and I’d like mine to be talking about queer media, culture, theory, and news. It’s also important to me that I seek out content and opinions from younger generations. It’s easy to become set in your ways, especially when you’ve experienced a lot of struggle – the familiar feels safer! But LGBT+ youth enter the community with boundless energy, fresh perspectives, and the bravery to ask for better.
For decades, states have used sodomy laws not just to criminalize queer sex, but to discriminate against LGBT+ people in our day-to-day lives. After a 1980’s Supreme Court ruling, sodomy laws were used to argue “it couldn’t be illegal to discriminate against gay people because gay people are a class “defined” by conduct which could be made a crime.” 16 states still have sodomy laws.
Having such a vulnerable, personal part of ourselves used as justification for torment and oppression has left many LGBT+ people struggling with shame and sex negativity. That’s why it’s important to celebrate pleasure, whether it’s shared with others or enjoyed solo.
How you choose to celebrate is up to you. Maybe that means setting aside time to masturbate more often. Maybe that means seeking queer sex education (and making sure new generations have access to accurate, stigma-free sex ed too.) Maybe that means splurging on a new sex toy to explore new sensations. Maybe that means talking with your partner(s) about trying something you’re shy about, or embracing your “freakier” side.
Or maybe it just means catching yourself the next time you’re embarrassed or ashamed of an aspect of your sexuality, and recognizing that you have nothing to feel bad about. Your desires – and the consensual acts you engage in – are normal.
Invest in the community.
If you have disposable income, you can help fund our future. There are queer publications, artists, and makers that don’t get the same industry support and opportunities that straight, cisgender peers do. Check if your favorite LGBT+ creators have a Patreon or merch store.
You can donate to your local LGBT+ center, or to organizations like the LGBT Freedom Fund, the Trevor Project, or the Transgender Law Center. You can also help queer people by directly donating to transition funds and queer folks in crisis. Even if you don’t have money to spare, you can boost organizations and posts by talking about them on your social media.
You can also invest time, which is often just as (if not more) useful than money. You can volunteer at local organizations or programs. You can reach out to your representatives about LGBT+ issues. You can vote, and help others vote. You can reach out to your local library and make sure they have your favorite LGBT+ books available. You can mentor a young LGBT+ person, or document your experiences as a queer person for future generations.
Be your own Pride parade.
LGBT+ folks are well-aware that even queer gatherings aren’t truly safe. But Pride festivals and parades are often as close as many of us ever get to feeling fully welcome in public. We can wear clothing and accessories we feel affirmed by – but normally keep in our literal closet – because for once we won’t stick out. We can let loose all the language, mannerisms, and PDA we have to suppress when in heterosexual, cisgender spaces. We’re surrounded by queer people and queer culture.
Pride is a simultaneous protest and celebration. While it’s not always safe to be visibly out and proud, there are things we can do to embody that Pride parade spirit year-round.
Perhaps you can’t wear a pronoun pin at work without derision, but maybe you can list your pronouns in your social media bios. Maybe you can’t talk about your partner to the grocery clerk, but you can call or text or Facetime a friend to share the anecdote instead. You might not be able to avoid homophobia, transphobia, and asexual erasure on television, your Facebook feed, or the law, but you can embody Pride by pushing back (contact the network, report the poster, reach out to your reps) and celebrating your identity (support queer media that reflects you, make a friend, donate to an org or boost a hashtag.) Through small day-to-day actions, you can be part of a change for the better… for yourself, and for others.And hey – if celebrating means using a pride flag dildo as desk décor at home, I’m right there with you.