If you haven’t already seen it on social media, June is PRIDE month, a time for LGBTQIA+ individuals to celebrate their differences, reflect on our history, and advocate for greater acceptance of marginalized peoples both inside and outside the community, especially LGBTQIA+ people of color. Parades and events are happening all over the world, and many of them are happening in countries where being gay is still punishable by death. These brave souls are fighting for freedoms in some of the most dangerous places to just be human.
I personally have never had to experience anything so terrifying. Perhaps its because I’m a cisgendered white gay male (actually that’s probably exactly the reason), but to me, PRIDE is all about loving others and being proud of who THEY are, just as much as its about being proud of who I am.
You will probably never see me holding a PRIDE flag and marching down the street in a parade of color, glitter, cheers, hugs, and love. I’m more of a quiet gay, the one who likes to sit at home with my yarn, my fabric, my dogs, and my wine while watching Disney movies and complaining about the dust I can’t seem to wipe away from my coffee table. It’s not that I don’t believe in everything PRIDE is and can be, I just really hate being in large crowds of strangers.
So how do I celebrate PRIDE?
I cheer on those who have chosen to let themselves be free. I support those who can’t yet openly live their lives. I vote for inclusive laws, for reproductive health, for pro-choice initiatives, and inclusive representatives. I work to educate myself on the needs of others who are suffering within our community. I celebrate diversity. Am I perfect? Absolutely not, and I make my fair share of mistakes, but I’m dedicated to making this world safer for everyone in it.
But what I’ve come to realize is…it’s not enough.
It’s not enough for me to sit silently in my home and cheer on others while never once opening my mouth. Its not enough for me to hope for change without helping to turn the gears. It’s not enough to ask people to support charities, or to stand up and make their voices heard, when I myself won’t do the same.
I have been a hypocrite for too long.
Today I’m pledging to start my own PRIDE journey. I will be donating what I can to the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, who is committed to “ending gender identity discrimination, and seeks to achieve equality for transgender people through public education, test-case litigation, direct legal services, and public policy effort.” You can find their donation page here.
Our trans siblings, especially trans BIPOC, are fighting the battle for acceptance that has raged on for far too long. This is something I should have done a long time ago. I won’t say its an important first step for me. This is no longer about me. This is about those who deserve the chance to live freely and openly.
And if you’re wondering when I will dye a PRIDE colorway, or sew an “inclusive” bag, the answer is never. I will not profit off the fight and plight of suffering people. Today, I stop taking. From this moment, I strive to give more to those in need.
I hope you will join me.