Welcome to Pride Week

We still need hope

Happy APW Pride week, everyone! I actually was introduced to APW during Pride week 2011 by a friend (who would eventually become our officiant) at Julie’s former roommate’s wedding. Checking the site was the first thing I did every morning that week—I had never seen anything addressing gay people getting married presented in such a… normal way… before. All the content in Pride Week here was just celebrating couples getting married, not commenting on how brave you have to be to be gay and married, or how indie/alternative it is to have a wedding when you’re LGBTQ. I’ve been a devoted reader of the site ever since, and I look forward to June all year.

If this is your first June around these parts, Pride Week at APW is when, save for the occasional craft tutorial or sponsored post, all the content is provided by LGBT contributors and/or features queer couples. Meg describes it this way, “It’s good for of us. Whether you’re used to being in the majority, or in the minority, it’s good to switch places for awhile and experience things from the other side.”

That’s one reason why Pride week is still important, even though as we continue to make progress, LGBT Pride seems unnecessary to some. The arguments go like this: Gay Marriage as a provocative topic is soooo 2008. We’re mainstream now, we’ve got the support of the people behind us. DOMA is dead. Well, not all the way dead, but one section, and that’s great, right? Same sex marriage is entirely legal in nineteen states! That’s almost half! I heard on NPR this week that transgender people are now allowed to apply to Medicaid for reimbursement for gender reassignment surgery. Their application won’t necessarily be approved, but the blanket ban on approval for the surgical procedure has been lifted—break out the champagne! All legally married couples, regardless of gender, will be reported as such in the census results that will be released this September as opposed to previous censuses which have indicated all gay couples as “unmarried partners,” even when the partners themselves identify as “spouses.” The truth is, the last year or two have seen huge momentum towards change and justice for LGBTQ folks. We seem to be in the middle of a sea change, and that’s great. However, we’re not there yet, and that’s why LGBT Pride is still important. We need to remind ourselves, and allies, and legislators, and communities that we’re not interested in halfway equality.

I’m feeling the partialness of this progress as we close in on eight weeks until our wedding day. At the end of it, Jules and I won’t actually be legally married. We will absolutely be married in our own hearts and minds, and in those of all our people who are coming out to celebrate with us. We’ll get a civil union sometime soon, so Julie can take advantage of my school district benefits. But for right now, we cannot claim any federal benefits until we go get married somewhere else first. Which would be sad, if it weren’t so damn silly. We’re not actually going to go get legalled anywhere else, right now. There are a few practical concerns: a few trips we’re taking separately right after the wedding that eat into our “together” travel budget, and a complete lack of desire to spend any honeymoon beach time waiting in line at the county clerk’s office to repeat what we’ll have just done the Saturday before. I have some ideological objections as well. It is terribly elitist to blithely suggest we’ve got the problem solved now that all of queer couples can go get married on vacation. Couples have to have enough disposable funding to travel out of state in order to make it official, when there are plenty of people who can barely leave their neighborhood? I have trouble ignoring how wrong that is, and it makes me feel uneasy about participating in that particular solution—which doesn’t mean that I won’t. It’s terribly precarious legally to be married in some places, and not others, but usually better to be married in a few places, rather than none at all.

Legislation and Internet communities aside, citywide Pride celebrations are feeling different these days. As it becomes safer and more acceptable in many places to be openly LGBT, we need less of a once-a-year opportunity to just… be out. What I’ve noticed at the Pride celebration in our city is that the vibe is less about being gay and proud together, and more about being a diverse community with the same human concerns. Yes, there are still handsome men with squirt guns and silver Speedos, and I, for one, hope that there always will be. But there are also a lot of families walking around the booths, dancing to the drag shows, waving rainbow flags. Pride celebrations are still great places to challenge the heteronormative standard. It’s still rare to see a gentleman wearing chaps and chains holding the hand of a person wearing a sequined dress, stilettos, and a full mustache walking down a major street in our everyday lives. If that’s something you dearly love to do, Pride is a wonderful time to do it. And if it’s something you’ve never tried, it’s a great time to find out how seeing that makes you feel, and maybe think about why it makes you feel that way.

One thing that’s always resonated with me as a queer feminist is that in civil rights activism personal is political. We’re all just trying to live our lives, take care of our people, grow up, maybe have babies, maybe raise puppies. The difference between us is that there continues to be legislation that prevents some of us from doing those things to the best of our ability—based on the similarity or difference between our own gender and the gender of the person/people we love, and people’s fear based on the perception of that love as different. That fear is also responsible for reprehensible laws and other actions all over the world—like Russia’s bans on gay rights groups saying that “propaganda of nontraditional sexual orientation is a threat to Russian society,” and Uganda’s law that sentences “first time offenders” to fourteen years in jail, and acts of “aggravated homosexuality” to a life sentence. We need to use the celebration that should absolutely be a part of any Pride as a starting point for discussing where we go from here, and how we’re going to get there.

That’s why we still need Pride Week. We’ve made amazing, tremendous progress, and that deserves to be celebrated. Harvey Milk said, “I ask for the movement to continue, for the movement to grow, because last week I got a phone call from Altoona, Pennsylvania, and my election gave somebody else, one more person, hope. And after all, that’s what this is all about. It’s not about personal gain, not about ego, not about power—it’s about giving those young people out there in the Altoona, Pennsylvanias, hope. You gotta give them hope.” We still need hope. We need to connect with ever larger parts of the community—not to assimilate, but because it’s still in all of our best interests to note our commonality. Coming out—or just taking a stand—can be such a lonely place. Doing it together isn’t just a good idea for wedding tasks; it’s also for the work of making the personal not just political, but also less lonely. This week, let’s think about where we want to go, and how we’re going to get there. But let’s also talk about where we are right now—weddings and babies and day-to-day life and all.

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  • Spuddington

    What a great start to the week!

  • Lian

    Go Pride! This past year gay marriage was legalized here in MN, which is fan-tas-tic! I moved here from the Netherlands, where it has been legal for years, and the fact that it was not legal here was emotionally shocking (though rationally I knew about it of course). I’m shocked it’s not legal in Colorado. More work to do!

  • Sparkles

    Oh man, this article and all the awesome stuff on Pinterest right now. I’m having a great morning! So much hope and joy and support. But seriously, my Pinterest feed this morning is off the rails. That yellow suit? All of the suits?

    • LydiaB

      I know right, Pinterest just made my lunch hour! And now I have about 20 more shots to show my photographer saying, “I want to look this confident and awesome!”

    • Meg Keene

      HA! That’s called taking a Pinterest board public all at once. Highlights in a post this afternoon.

  • Thank you so much for this. The battle is not over. Kids are still thrown out of their homes for being glbtq. Parents are still denied having both of their names on their children’s birth certificates. Parents still have to do home visits to do a second parent adoption, whereas if they were straight it would be a non-issue. As a friend I just met over the weekend said, “getting a license in one state and coming back here is like the government saying ‘that’s nice now go back to picking cotton, you’re still a second class citizen here.'” And don’t even get me started on divorce equality, yes that’s a thing. There is much to celebrate but there is still much work to do.

  • um hey, i follow that girl on Instagram- they live in LA! the couple in the picture! small world!

    • Meg Keene

      They’re also big APWers, and their wedding is coming… NEXT week. Pride keeps going forevvvvveeerrrrrr…. ;)

  • Fiona

    This is quite wonderful, and one of the reasons I started coming to APW and never left. I love that there is a place for so many different kinds of relationships to be normal.
    I’m in a heterosexual relationship, but my little sis is gay. We went to Pittsburgh Pride a couple weeks ago together, and it was amazing. Not only were we celebrating the recent legalization of marriage equality in Pennsylvania., but we were recognizing the hardships and celebrating accomplishments of this diverse community. Early on in the parade, they had a huge rainbow flag carried by a whole bunch of people. Turns out, they were all recently married Pennsylvanians. We couldn’t help it. We cried. It’s so validating to have all the rights at HOME. Who cares that we could have driven a couple hours south to Maryland to go to a courthouse . My sister wants to get married in the backyard (when that day comes), and she will dammit!

  • KM

    Thanks for this. Marriage equality is definitely only part of the battle. In many states and jurisdictions it is still quite legal to be fired or denied a rent application for being gay (i.e. there is no anti-discrimination law). For example, in most of Pennsylvania, where it is recently possible to have a legally-recognized gay marriage, it would be legal for your boss to fire you because he saw your gay-wedding picture on your desk and you have no legal protection against his personal animus. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice” … though not without our continued activism.

    • Absolutely. It doesn’t bend by itself.

  • Lawyerette510

    Yes yes yes yes yes!!!!!

  • MC

    Yes to all of this. And Kelsey, if you two do decide to get legally married in the near future, New Mexico is close by and is a great place for a roadtrip!

  • Gina

    I really like your points about Uganda and Russia. Because LGBTQ folks do have it good here in the U.S. of A. compared to other countries–but, just like with feminism, we still have a long, long way to go. And how far we go directly impacts how other countries address these issues. In some ways, the pace of change regarding LGBTQ rights in America has been amazing. But on the other hand, things have changed so fast that it’s easy to stop pushing as hard once we think, “victory is ours!” We must not stop pushing.

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