With Pride month ending last week, I have a few thoughts I want to share...
Initially I was reluctant to write to you about Pride, wanting instead to spotlight those in the LGBTQ* community. I’m a cis, pretty-much-straight, white woman - sometimes it’s good to just shut up and listen amirite.
AND I wanted us to mark Pride without actually saying “this is our Pride-themed post/t shirt/ whatever”, because being Proud should always just be part of our day-to-day.
The thing is though, over the month of June I have realised that I had another, latent, motivation: protection.
As I’m sure you are aware, the attacks on the queer community, in particular trans people, are becoming increasingly more hateful. I wasn’t sure if it would be responsible of us to ask people who are already vulnerable to share their thoughts - we could be putting them in real danger.
I’m sorry to say that last month I had a constant feeling of unease. Similar to the icecold terror of watching Cyclone Gabrielle approach New Zealand in February. Will people be harmed this Pride month?
I am grateful there seems not to have been a large-scale disaster. But I also acknowledge that, in obvious and less obvious ways, people in the LGBTQ* community experience harm, any month of the year.
Talking with my brother while writing this letter, he encouraged me not to get lost in the terror, and instead to go back to Pride, to think about what that word really means to me.
And wow, what power. To me Pride says that while some in society seek to shut out or shame, there is great pride in being the person you truly are, or at the very least, doing your honest best in seeking it out.
That, in the face of great pain, there is also great love.
So yes, here I am, a cis, pretty-much-straight, white woman speaking about Pride. No it’s not my celebration, but it is my job to make society more safe so that those whose celebration it is can all-the-way enjoy it.
How can I do that? A small way is to use my power and our platform to say what I think.
Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Real sex education is important. Queer people deserve the same rights as everyone else. Here’s an incomplete list:
- The right to feel safe
- The right to love and be loved
- The right to explore the truth of their selves
- Access to healthcare
- Recognition in law
And look, I love me some classic imported pop culture. For years I thought the dial tone on telephones in the U.S. was superior to ours because of how often I heard it in movies. But the current, manufactured moral panic that is being embraced by some in New Zealand is not it.
Obviously, performative action can only do so much. Yes we need to talk about this, it would be worse I think if we didn’t. But talking is not enough.
Here are some ideas. I realise they are coming from my own perspective, and there are many, many more.
Donate to, or become involved with organisations such as Rainbow Youth, OutLine or InsideOUT
Listen to the queer people in your life - are they asking you to stop, start, or continue doing something for them?
For god’s sake, READ. Read widely, and think critically. Question the motivations of the writer and the publication
Continually question and challenge your learned assumptions about what is “right” and “good”
Involve yourself with community action - this may be at your school, workplace, local or central politics
Challenge those who harm or discriminate against queer people. This could be in small, almost imperceptible ways, or in larger, louder actions. Talk for as long as the conversation is constructive
To all who celebrate Pride, I am proud of you.