We recently went to our local Pride event as we do every year. It is always a big occasion for us which includes lots of family and friends as well as a decent amount of food and alcohol. It was a fabulous day, it didn’t rain, we laughed a lot and as always just enjoyed the knowledge that we were surrounded by 160,000 other queers. That’s not something that happens everyday and it’s a massive boost to feel in the majority for a change.
There were a couple of black spots on the day, a fight which very nearly spilled into the area we were sitting. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a fight a pride. I’ve seen lots of drama probably induced by too many substances and too much sun but never a fight with real viciousness like this one. The other black spot was the idiot who felt it was ok to ask when looking at me “Is that a man or a woman?”. Now I know how I look can be confusing for those who see gender as a binary, and I do get those kind of comments occasionally. But don’t come to Pride of all places and ask stupid questions. Watch the parade, have a drink, join in the party but please keep your mouth shut if you don’t get it, then go and educate yourself.
Everything else about the day was brilliant so I’m not going to let those two things worry me but I have been thinking about pride. Not so much in terms of the Pride events that take place but the act of being proud. It’s easy to be proud at Pride events, who’s going to argue with you and thousands of other queers? But sometimes it’s not so easy to be proud while alone and generally we go about our daily business alone. Walking through each day as someone who looks (and is) different to what is expected can get tiring and disheartening.
As I become more aware of myself I become more convinced that queer and genderqueer visibility is extremely important, but in some ways that also makes me more self conscious. I notice now more than ever when people stare or make comments to their friends. It may be that I am more noticeable because I have more confidence and pride in myself. That my general air is more masculine and self assured which triggers something in others that makes them notice. Or it might just be that I’m more aware of what goes on around me instead of being blinkered and hiding inside my own head. Whichever it is it does occasionally make me feel more vulnerable and less inclined to be proud.
This is obviously not good, I am proud of who and what I am. The reactions of others should not change that, deep down it doesn’t change it but I can become cautious particularly when I’m on my own. My pride suffers, my self esteem dips and I have to make an effort to keep my head held high. I need to work on my ‘fuck you’ attitude, to maintain my sense of pride both in myself and my community. Essentially my pride doesn’t just come from who I am but from being honest about who I am, with myself and with those around me. So it is really important that I take that honesty with me wherever I go and whatever I do, daily.
Pride events happen only periodically and are an amazing way of celebrating queerness in all its marvellous forms as well as raising awareness. But it is day to day visibility which I think will really change attitudes about anyone who is ‘different’. It’s diversity which makes the human race so fascinating and we should all be proud of that.