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A Pride Month Roundtable Chat

A banner graphic on a blue background. The title is "Pride Month" written in rainbow letters, and below that it says "dpp roundtable." There is clipart of a pride flag on a flag pole in the center.

Happy Pride Month, everyone! It’s our favorite month of the year and we decided to get personal about what Pride Month means to us and how we celebrate it. The people who joined our discussion are: YF Ollwell, Rascal Hartley, Sebastian Marie, boneturtle, Alessa Riel, Tris Lawrence, EC, Owl Outerbridge, Nina Waters, and two anonymous contributors.

1. What does Pride Month mean to you?

Anonymous 1: Pride and pride month was first and foremost a riot, it’s transgressive and will continue to be transgressive until the need for it to not be anymore is served. It’s about protest and being comfortable as queer people in our own community and selves, and yes we need allies more than ever, but it’s not about them in this case. It’s about us and our community and history and being safe in our identities. Don’t deliberately alienate people or allies, but it’s on them to respect the context, but still making a point does not equate being obnoxious on purpose.

Sebastian Marie: It means that this is a time to go “I exist, and you can’t change that” to people who don’t care. There’s a lot of people who say things like “I’m supportive just don’t shove it down my throat” and to that I say, “deepthroat the rainbow, fuckers, this is my time”

Anonymous 2: I’ve always liked the idea of pride, but I can’t stand crowds and loud noises, and I don’t drink. It’s one of those things where I’m glad it exists but I don’t want to be there, if that makes sense? The merch tables are good, though. I love any excuse to buy colorful handmade merch.

Owl Outerbridge: [What Anonymous 2 says] is why I love my city’s small Pride during the first week of Pride month. It’s a big gay craft fair, lol.

Anonymous 2: Big gay craft fairs are awesome. Crafty set-ups encourage people to talk to each other, too. Learn new skills and get in contact with artists.

Rascal Hartley: If we’re just talking about the concept of Pride, and not the actual event Pride, then to me it means a space to be loud and be accepted, but especially the loud part. There is no normalization without being loud about it first, so the concept of Pride, to me, means being loud as a group.

Anonymous 2: Without a doubt. Being loud and proud and not going away is important, and I think it might be even more important now that people are getting tired and there’s a slow chipping away at the authenticity of activism.

boneturtle: This reminds me of Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette where she talks about being a “quiet gay” Another reason I struggled to identify as gay was the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. I watched it on … my TV in my little living room in my small town. That was my first introduction to my people. The Mardi Gras… I used to watch it, going, “There they are, my people. They’re busy, aren’t they? Gosh. Don’t they love to dance and party?” I used to sit there and watch it and go, “Where… where do the quiet gays… go? Where are the quiet gays supposed to go?” I still do. I’m just like… the pressure on my people to express our identity and pride through the metaphor of party is very intense. Don’t get me wrong, I love the spectacle, I really do, but I’ve never felt compelled to get amongst it. Do you know? I’m a quiet soul. … “I need to express my identity through the metaphor of a nap. I don’t… I don’t think I’m very good at gay.”

Alessa Riel: Gosh, Nanette was so powerful. Such an eye opener. It made me laugh and cry at the same time

Tris Lawrence: I love the idea of Pride, but I have never been to a Pride event. Helping at the last A Big Gay Market was the first queer big event I’ve done. Like others have said, Pride is about being out and loud and joyful and being with other queer people. But for me, being so very invisibly queer (and straight-passing because married to a dude), I’ve always felt a little off to the side. It’s getting easier to think ‘hey I could belong,’ and I’m hoping I might get to go to my first Pride event this year. It’s complicated by other things also going on the same weekend. And crowds, and social anxiety, and the idea of going by myself.

YF Ollwell: I generally consider myself a very open person, and being queer is very important to my sense of self, but Pride Month feels like a time of the year that I can share in that openness with the community at large. It’s about coming together and being ourselves in opposition of forces that would rather see us hidden away somewhere—which is why it’s felt particularly high stakes the last couple of years, and why I’ve gotten more invested in it than I was when I was younger.

Anonymous 2: I can’t even listen to live music if there’s an amp, so in-person events are my natural enemy. Sometimes you just have to accept that something can be good and also not for you.

2. How did you first learn about about Pride?

Anonymous 1: I lived in San Francisco a hop-skip from the Castro district and had a childhood hyper-fixation with historical bisexuals (Byron, Alexander Hamilton, Georgiana of Devonshire, Krishna, Olive Custance, Alfred “Bosie” Douglas, and David Bowie), and known historical queer (cause idk what he’d ID as, it’s complicated) Oscar Wilde, I was bound to stumble on it eventually. Also just wanna add, and it took me awhile to understand this cause neurodivergent etc., but part of the queer community being a bit transgressive means not discoursing each other in a way that is inherently harmful. I for one don’t understand bi vs pan, I’m bi, just bi, and not pan at all, but Janelle Monae for example uses both words as descriptors for themselves as well “she/they” and “free-ass black person” and this extends to ace and aro people and I’m Demi/grey ace but bi and genderqueer first and foremost. It’s no one’s business questioning another persons (or canonically x ID’s characters) label, you can ask respectfully how they contextualize themselves and why but if it’s malicious, drop it and stop. Even talking to older bisexuals in the bi support group I go to once a month, even they understand their bi-ness a little differently than I do, and that’s a good thing cause human diversity and diversity in perspectives is how you get well-rounded world views and people.

Sebastian Marie: When gay marriage was legalized in the US in 2015 I remember watching the news and seeing a lot of marches to celebrate, and that was the first time I’d ever seen Pride marches before. This was before I knew I was queer, but it was one of the first times I conceptualized the idea of being queer as something that had a community behind it instead of being an isolating thing.

YF Ollwell: I grew up near San Francisco with (thankfully) very accepting parents, so I knew about Pride from a very early age; I remember being maybe seven and seeing rainbow flags and decorations being sold in a local party store. I went to SF Pride for the first time when I was sixteen with my high school girlfriend.

Nina Waters: I feel like it says a lot about my own background and age that I knew about AIDs and AIDs Walk long before I knew about Pride. I grew up in New York City, and my mother and I did AIDs Walk annually starting when I was seven years old. In retrospect, it was a lot like a Pride event, because a lot of people there were always out and proud, there were drag queens, there were performances, there was camp, so I always liked to go. I’m not actually sure when I came to understand Pride as a separate event, but I went to my first Pride after I returned to NYC after graduate school. I thought I was cishet at the time, and I just liked parades and wanted to see the drag outfits. Seeing people being so out and comfortable, wherever I was when they were like that, has always been a source of joy to me. It’s such a visceral, visible reminder of “we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it, because we won’t let the world erase us.” I wanted to be there as an ally when I was young, and now I want to be there with my wife and kids to show how many flavors of Pride there are.

3. How do you plan to celebrate Pride this year? Do you have any Pride Month rituals?

EC: “Pride Month” in the US Southeast is often a little weird [because] many local Pride celebrations are held in September or October instead of June. This is ostensibly because of the weather (I mean, it’s valid. June temps are routinely in the high 80s, and 95-100+ isn’t unheard of), but also because colleges are back in session. So we get a month of unofficial Pride in June—rainbow merch in stores, events at local queer bars and other queer and queer-friendly local businesses—but parades and other “official” events happen in the fall, somewhat piecemeal.

Anonymous 1: I am still making plans, so to be decided. But as an observation—and I do this year round anyway—buying bi and queer art and jewelry from queer artists and independent artists. Definitely some events, there’s a monthly virtual bi group I go to once a month associated with the Boston bi women’s association.

Sebastian Marie: Planning to go to several Pride events with my boyfriend including a party. My rituals include painting my nails the bisexual flag colors and doing a short prayer to Nuestra Señora de Santa Muerte, a Mexican saint whose patronage includes queer people.

boneturtle: I did have a whole thing I wrote but then deleted it because I thought it might come across as too pessimistic. But then our city’s Pride parade was canceled because it rained the night before (no flooding, just… a bit of rain) and the committee wasn’t able to get approval to reschedule it, so I think that sums the situation up pretty well.

Rascal Hartley: I’m in a similar boat, I think. I’ve had to sit out this year and really think about accessibility and if I’d even be able to go to Pride and the answer is… kind of turning out to be no, in my area. There’s just too much risk and not enough benches for me.

Owl Outerbridge: I go to Pride, and this year we’re actually marching with the community college, but I feel like my activism and my statement is existing as an openly queer teacher in the classroom. It’s exhausting to know some parents don’t want me near their children and anticipating the moment it becomes an issue, so, like, it has to be enough. I’m not huge on crowds, or noise, or standing out, lol.

YF Ollwell: Even though I’m living in a big city again, I’m not planning to go out and do anything exciting! A friend of mine is living with me most of the month, so we’ve been celebrating in our own way by going out and supporting each other as fellow queer people. Beyond that, I’m hoping to go to smaller queer/trans events around my city and meet lots of new people. My brother’s birthday is at the end of the month, so I’ll wrap it all up by celebrating with him!

Nina Waters: As the owner of Duck Prints Press, I vended at our local Pride on June 1st, and it was a wonderful time! My dad even came, he’s 83 and it was his first Pride. Considering that when I first came out, he wasn’t supportive, it felt really nice to have him there and comfortable. My wife’s office also had a group marching in Albany Pride, so she and I and our kids did that and handed out candy and stuff. I like crowds and we always see people we know at events like this, so it’s a chance to catch up with friends we don’t see often. I’ve been to Pride most years since, like…2008 or 2009…and I don’t expect that to change.

4. Rec us one (1) deliciously queer book to read this month

Anonymous 1:Bi any other name by Loraine Hutchins and Lani Ka’ahumanu.”

Sebastian Marie: Gotta reccomend The Girl and the Goddess by Nikita Gill, which is a gorgeous semi-biographical exploration of the authors bisexuality and how it interests with her faith and culture.

Rascal Hartley: I’d love to recommend Body, Remember by Kenny Fries. It’s not very well known, but if you’re a disabled queer person, I think it’s a must-read.

YF Ollwell: I read Crash by J.G. Ballard for the first time earlier this year and it was a life-changing experience: fascinating, transgressive, and the exact kind of bizarre queer fiction style I hope to capture in my own writing.

Nina Waters: Hmm… almost everything I read is queer and it’s hard to pick. I think I’ll take the self-promotional way out – I’ve read all the stories in our upcoming anthology Many Hands: An Anthology of Polyamorous Erotica and they’re so good, so maybe check out our Kickstarter, lol. (You can’t read it this month cause it’s not out yet, but SOON!)

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