‘Visibility is a Revolutionary Act’: How Our Readers Celebrate Pride at Home

published Jun 25, 2019
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Credit: Ben Haist

It’s been 50 years since the Stonewall uprising in New York, when patrons of the Stonewall Inn fought back against a police raid and launched a widespread push for LBGTQ+ rights. Because of this important history, Pride events provide opportunities to celebrate the many accomplishments over the decades, but the spirit of protest remains for others.

Pride represents something different for every queer person. For many, it’s a celebration of identity and expression, often accompanied by parties, parades, and lots of festive attire. But it’s important to realize that many people around the world—even in inclusive and welcoming communities—still face discrimination, homophobia, and sometimes violence for being their true selves.

We asked some of our readers what “Pride” means to them and how they celebrate at home or in their communities. Here’s what they shared.

Credit: Image Submitted by Jamee Jones

Jamee Jones, 31, Los Angeles

Pride to me means celebrating the power and will to exist and be my most authentic self. As a black, gender non-conforming person, proudly displaying my visibility is a revolutionary act. Especially in a world where I am at risk, and the intersection of my two identities could warrant an attack on my person at any given time. I will not apologize for my blackness nor will I apologize for my queerness. I am enough, and I will continue to satisfy my soul.

Courtney Frederick, 30, Chicago

Two years ago, I left the apartment that I loved to move in with the woman I love, Bear. Since then, I have leaned on my community of queer people, of women, of friends, to help me rebuild a 1924 bungalow in desperate need of some love. That is one way I celebrate Pride in my home: I have a space that is mine, that is ours, where the people that I love gather.

My home is hot in the summer and cold in the winter, but whenever someone needs a place to sleep, I am proud to offer that. My home is a space where the walls are decorated with Sunday morning estate sale finds, with trinkets gifted by friends from their travels, with photos of Bear and me on our wedding day. Pride is about the riots, Pride is about love, Pride is about finding the strength to rise, and about supporting others to do the same.

Being a queer woman who has built a community of friends and family, who has built a home out of those ideals means that Pride is something that is integral to my being and not something that is even possible to celebrate just one month a year. It’s not the marketable loud, colorful, impossible-to-look-away spectacle that most people associate with Pride. It’s the kind of Pride that for people who aren’t looking for it, and for people that don’t truly understand it, they might not see at all.

Credit: Image submitted by Mike Nguyen

Mike Nguyen, 31, Melbourne

Pride to me means living my life as authentically and unashamedly as possible—every single day. I grew hiding my true self for so long and denied myself of true freedom and happiness. Coming out and re-discovering myself as a queer has been one of the hardest and most liberating things I’ve done—I wouldn’t change any of it.

I celebrate Pride by regularly participating in local queer events through my dance/performance art, and through supporting others who strive to inspire and empower the community. Putting yourself out there and being visible has so much impact on the world and the community. Visibility is one of the most important things to me—it lets people know that we’re here and that we as queers have a powerful voice.

Pride is about telling the truth, and the truth is that we belong. We belong to our families, to our communities, in our homeland, or in our places of worship. We belong not only to the places and people we came from, but to each other. Pride is about our home, our first home, our body. It’s claiming ownership over our body and defending the right to express and embody who we are without shame or fear of violence. Pride is about remembering that queer homes and gathering places were under attack by state violence not that long ago.

The first Pride was a riot made necessary by brutal attacks by police. Pride is lifting up the memories of the black and brown trans women like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, who picked up the brick and started the fight for equality. Pride is cherishing our living foremother Miss Major Griffin-Gracy and all of the queer and trans people living and breathing today who continue work in their legacies. Pride is about giving us our roses while we are living.

Credit: Submitted by Dean Sameshima
Dean's apartment in Berlin is filled with queer art.

Dean Sameshima, 48, Berlin

I am proud of being Asian, gay, and an artist.  I don’t necessarily “celebrate” in accordance with Pride festivals and Pride months, but I do believe those events are very important, especially for the younger generations. I celebrate with pride that I have survived and continue to do so despite adversity.

We still live in a time where racism, homophobia, transphobia, and sexism are still problems, and if we can overcome those hurdles on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, we have a lot to be proud of.  Every time I make a work of art in my studio, kiss my boyfriend in public, post something on Instagram, walk outside with my glory hole tattoo exposed, or wear a t-shirt with queer imagery, I am celebrating my survival with pride.

Jennifer Li, 29, Oakland

Pride to me is a double-edged sword. On one hand, “YAY!” to celebrations of queerness! On the other hand, “Boo!” to corporate entities trying to capitalize on the community without actually pushing themselves or their own policies to help us. Sanctioned Pride parades feel like just banks in rainbows. Mainstream Pride is slowly becoming rainbow St. Patrick’s Day, but I also understand that that’s a good problem to have. Community-created events like the Dyke March feel more grounded in the original spirit of Pride to me.

I like to go to those smaller gatherings or community-specific events where it feels like you’re with family, and not a zoo animal being gawked at. I don’t have any set traditions, but if I do go to any Pride events, it’s usually with my API queer friends.

I don’t know if I can say Pride is part of my everyday, because I still haven’t fully embraced my own “bi-ness.” I just say queer to avoid saying that I’m bi, because of the amount of stigma and shame that comes with it. From all the negative comments I’ve gotten from people in the LG community, I’ve kind of felt like I don’t really deserve to be part of the LGBT community. But I’ve been surrounding myself with reaffirming queer friends of all different identities who don’t call me “dirty” or deride me for not being a Gold Star.

Credit: Image submitted by Jennifer Li
Jennifer at a Pride parade in D.C.

The first pride I walked in was in DC, with KhushDC, and I held up a sign that said “It ain’t no lie, baby I’m bi, bi, bi,” and I was so surprised at how many enthusiastic people waved at me or ran up to hug me because they were excited about the explicitly bi recognition. I was self-conscious of the sign at first, but seeing how other bisexual people’s eyes lit up made me feel like I shouldn’t hide or try to downplay this part of me, because there are others of us out there that need that signaling!

Credit: pavla

Radriguez, 38, Mexico City

Pride can be the cause of an enormous debate, between those who only see the opportunity to party, and those who ask for reflection on the moments of struggle as a community. In particular, my partner and friends seek to get involved in activities that have a bit of everything. I think we should celebrate what we are and have, but we must also remain focused on all the work that needs to be done on issues of rights, respect, and visibility for the most vulnerable parts of our community.

Before heading out we get together for a drink, or finish putting glitter on each other, or make posters with slogans. In Mexico City, the biggest celebration takes place in the streets in a parade that seems more like a carnival, full of emotions, activism, and many butts out on display! To live Pride is to live in harmony with our ideals and our actions—this transparency is what sets us free.

What does Pride mean to you, and how do you celebrate? Tell us in the comments.