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Why #PrideWeek Is More Than Just A Party

An Intro to the annual APW #LGBTQ takeover

 

Hey APW—Welcome to Pride Week! Happy pride! Confetti! Electronic music! Chaps! If you haven’t joined us for this wonderful week before, Pride Week on APW is a solid week of material that—with the exception of sporadic sponsored or DIY posts—is all provided by LGBTQ contributors and/or features queer couples. And, if you should fit into those categories (or any minority category, for that matter), then you know already, but a prolonged period of getting to see and read about and share experiences of people who look like you is a pretty heady feeling.

Pride week has always been my favorite part of the APW community, and I’m feeling especially warm and fuzzy toward this one. Last year at this time, my now-wife, Julie and I were heading down the home stretch to our own September wedding. And our home state of Colorado was awaiting the outcome of a circuit court decision that would determine whether or not same-sex marriage would be recognized. Last year was an… exciting time to be queer and engaged in Colorado, and a lot of our eighteen month engagement was an emotional roller coaster of whether we’d be legally married on our wedding day, or not. As it turned out, we got civil unioned at our wedding, the court decision we’d been waiting for finally came through exactly one month later, and we got legally married a week after that. And, especially through the filter of seven months of distance, every time we got married this year was awesome. Of course, other couples had an even more extreme ride to equality.

After all, did you see what happened in Ireland? When a primarily Catholic nation became the first country in the world to recognize same sex marriage by a popular vote? I just got goose bumps writing that. I’m not alone in this, but I was deeply moved by how important the measure seemed to be to so many people, including the mass migration of Irish citizens no longer living in Ireland but returning #hometovote.

This was an especially hopeful harbinger for those of us in the USA, as candidates here start to lay the foundations of their 2016 presidential campaigns. Unfortunately, several conservative candidates, seem to be already adding their disapproval of my—and many others—marriages to their talking points of things they will Fix In America when they are elected. I finally had to take a couple of weeks off from listening to NPR, because I’m a little bit bored by their arguments. Talking about how couples like Julie and I are ruining the social fabric of this country by getting married then doing social work and pushups and trying to raise decent pets is no longer original rhetoric. The candidates, like the arguments themselves, sound tired. I think, perhaps, the tide has turned. Even the Wall Street Journal reports that fifty-nine percent of Americans support recognizing same sex marriage. I hope that soon, it will be time for us to move on to some of the other issues facing this country. I hope it’s time for those of us who have been activists for marriage equality to turn our attention to other areas where our community still desperately needs our efforts.

All in all, there are things to be proud of. And I am! I am hopeful and happy and married (!!) and none of those things really had anything to do with the fact that I was considering skipping the live-action, civic Pride celebrations this year. Partly it had to do with what Pride has meant to me since I came out a decade ago. At first, I went to Pride because identifying as a gay lady was terrifying and isolating, and Pride (though terrifying in it’s own right) was an opportunity to go be one of many. A chance to see people who didn’t fit into any templates I’d ever considered, but were still my people, even when they were strangers, because of our commonality. And then I got older, and more comfortable being a queer person in all of my spaces, Pride was still an essential event—but more because, Pride celebrations frequently involved brunching in a parade viewing spot, and drinking and dancing, and celebrating in the sun all day long. But now, I’m older. I’m pretty clear on who I am, and where I fit, and how being queer affects all of that. I’m also more fond of retaining my dignity than I used to be, and all-day boozing has been phased out of my repertoire (sadly). But without the tingly sense of terror, and the constant champagne, I wasn’t sure if Pride had anything to offer me this year.

This winter, Julie and I started talking about moving from Colorado to Southern California, much like we always do after the icy days become more frequent. We decided that maybe I’d put some feelers out, and see what the job situation looked like. I flew out for a job interview at the end of March and moved from Denver to Los Angeles in May, and I left Julie in Colorado for another month to pack up the house and wrap up her own work. Earlier this month we were talking during my commute from my office to my parent’s house. “LA Pride is June 13th,” Julie said, “And I think we should go. I know you don’t want to, but I think we should.”

“Why is that?” I asked

“We’re new there,” she said simply. “We gotta find our people.” And she’s right. I don’t think we expected to find our actual new best friends in a crowd of thousands, but that’s not the point. Pride isn’t for me, or just for Julie and me, or even for the endless champagne and warm beer. Pride is for community—for the LGBTQ community, and for the cities we live in, and for the people who love us. Pride is a vision of the way things could be, a way to make the less prominent visible for a day or two, and try that on for size.

This June, Caitlin Jenner is on the cover of Vanity Fair. That simple statement is cause for celebration. However, just a tiny step past that simplicity, the vitriol and controversy and perhaps just general, well-intentioned ignorance surrounding the story are a reminder that trans-women are still disproportionately targets of violence.  Let that be your metaphor for Pride this year. Let’s celebrate what we’ve accomplished, but not forget the work yet to come.

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