Pride Isn’t Just a Party—It’s About Resistance and Belonging. Here’s How I’m Celebrating This Year
I experienced my first Pride festival when I was eighteen years old, just a few months after I had first come out during my senior year in high school. Growing up in a conservative area, and then being kicked out after I came out as queer, finding community was extremely important to me both in order to feel a sense of immediate connection, but also as the opportunity to learn about the history of LGBTQ people, something I was never taught in school.
I’ll never forget that first experience of being at the festival and in the march surrounded by thousands of other LGBTQ people and the profound visceral experience of understanding I was not alone, that I would never be alone. Now, nearly two decades later, I’ve been lucky enough to experience many Pride festivals as a spectator, a marcher, and an invited artist/performer—but Pride isn’t just something to think about in June, which is why hanging a rainbow flag from the front of my house was my first priority after moving in.
In this highly unusual year, my Pride is looking very different, so I brought the festival to my yard. On my front porch lives a large plastic dinosaur leftover from Halloween (four years ago). My partner and I dress her up for every holiday, including Pride. This year she’s holding a small rainbow flag and a transgender pride flag and positioned behind her is a hand-painted “Black Lives Matter” poster. I have also been dressing our giant dog up in a rainbow costume most evenings as we walk around our neighborhood, our very own small and quiet socially distanced pride parade.
Turns out, I’m not the only one getting creative. Porch pride (or decorating the front of your home) has become a popular idea as a way to recognize the importance of Pride in a time when it’s not possible to get together in person. I checked in with some community members around the world to see how they are honoring Pride month from home:
“I’m watching Pride simultaneously with a bunch of friends after getting dressed up as if we were going to an outside Pride. We’re also going to put our trans pride flags up around the house and I’m making little banners—and a t-shirt for my dog!” —Dan Naismith, Glasgow, Scotland
“I made rainbow door decor with wet erase chalk markers and tape.” —Justine Shuey, Marlton, New Jersey
“I’m throwing a book-themed Pride celebration online with a bunch of authors!” —Nathan Caro Fréchette, Canada
“I’ve started a pile of all my queer/Pride shirts to wear with my pajamas. I also plan to re-post my sermon on Marsha P. Johnson. I’ll likely also do awareness posts on my personal social media as well as my work social media.” —Rebecca Yowler, Galesburg, Illinois
“We have turned our little free library into a little scene. We’re in the process of making a tiny Pride parade for people to enjoy looking at when they walk by. We also have our windows decorated and will soon have a sign wishing people a ‘happy queerantine.’” —Tina Lesley-Fox, Syracuse, New York
On a larger scale, Pride 2020 is unlike anything any of us have ever experienced. Technology is playing a huge role in helping people to connect with each other and for community mobilization, solidarity and survival during these challenging times. With physical Pride events around the world canceled, many communities are bringing as many events as possible online through pre-recorded or live streaming performances.
Virtual gatherings amongst friends on Zoom are becoming the norm, and LGBTQ authors and musicians have been offering live readings and concerts via YouTube Instagram and Facebook Live. In addition, cities and LGBTQ communities around the country have shifted their focus away from what we have come to think of as “traditional” Pride festivities and instead are focusing on intersectionality and joining in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
At its root, Pride is about both resistance and belonging—two words I am thinking a lot about this year in particular. It’s especially important to recognize the ways in which Pride began as a riot against police brutality where LGBTQ people—specifically LGBTQ people of color who were mostly homeless youth—stood up against the police at NYC’s Stonewall Inn, fighting back and systematically changing the shape of the way LGBTQ people are seen in this country. Pride should always, but especially this year, exist in recognition and in conversation with the impact of systemic racism and recognition of the roles that LGBTQ people of color had in starting the Stonewall uprising that birthed what most of us think of as the modern LGBTQ rights movement.