Happy June, friends. I’m fully into summer mode, which for this teacher means time-off from school and time-on for writing and creating. And, since it’s June, that means it’s Pride month!

I wrote last year about my first-ever Pride parade and how meaningful it was. I still think about that marching band probably on a weekly basis.

But this year, as I dedicate this post to Pride month, I want to recognize that Pride isn’t so simple for all of us.

I imagine it’s complicated for:
– those of us who are at the beginning of their coming out journey. 

– those of us who have had a traumatic coming out journey. 

– those who identify as queer and a person of color. 

– those who love someone who has come out and don’t fully understand it. 

I didn’t understand Pride when I was first coming out, either. I said a lot of stupid things like, “Why would I ever be proud to like women?” Or, “It’s not my whole identity – just a cool footnote.”

I didn’t ever want to be seen as the gay writer. I didn’t want that to be the first thing someone thought of when they thought of me. And while I still think that’s valid and we all are allowed to be whole people, what’s so wrong with my queerness being wrapped up in my identity? What is wrong with people thinking, wow, what a strong lesbian writer?

Internalized homophobia runs deep and owning a queer identity does not simply wipe it away.

So if you’re reading this and thinking, I’m not out enough, or gay enough, or queer enough to be a part of Pride, please know there is no rubric that others are checking. You have a seat with me at Pride, no matter where you land. 

It’s hard to celebrate Pride when you know it excludes people of color. I don’t have perfect words around this, but I ask you to read these words from Genelle Levy, a writer of color. And just like I don’t have perfect words, I don’t have perfect actions. But I can elevate the voice of people of color, highlight the divide Pride creates, and ask local Pride organizers to include organizations led by people of color. 

Please remember that Pride was started by Black trans women. There is no Pride without people of color. 

Lastly, if you love someone who has come out, and Pride is confusing for you, I get it. I thought Pride was scantily-clad men wearing rainbows and dancing all over each other. For some people, that might be true! And that’s good and perfect and doesn’t need to go anywhere.

For others though, it’s very different. I celebrate Pride month by writing these stories. I celebrate by being my full self in every space I enter. I celebrate Pride by elevating other voices. 

If you find Pride a little confusing in your straight space, one way to celebrate others is by voicing your appreciation. On June 1st, I received this text from my oldest friend:
“Feeling full of awe, love & inspiration for you & your truth lived bold & loud, every day but always especially on this day – happy pride my dearest friend, you have always been a gift to this world but even more so as your truest self.”

I’m sure my friend won’t mind if you borrow some of her words to send to your queer friend or loved one.

No matter where you land this Pride month, know there is a seat for you. Let’s save them and make them known. 

More on Pride over here.

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