Pride Month is upon us, and for many of us it’s not the rainbow flag flying party it is (now) intended to be. It’s often the most visible reminder of the ways we are estranged from our local queer community. For queer and trans POC, Pride Month can be dangerous. Add in other identities such as being undocumented, disabled, or fat, and Pride becomes dangerous and inaccessible in more ways.
Under the auspices of keeping Pride festivals “safe,” police are frequently invited, with no regard for which community members will then feel distinctly unsafe and unwelcome. The police have proven to not be friends to QTPOC. Ignoring Black Lives Matter, working with ICE agents, and failing to investigate trans murders – while misgendering victims – proves they aren’t here for us. I’ve felt insulted by local LGBT organizers who overlook this truth.
There are other ways Pride festivals might not be welcoming. From being cost prohibitive and literally inaccessible to a variety of disabilities, to being hosted in alcohol-drenched venues with an air of biphobia and non-binary erasure, there are many reasons we may not feel able to embrace the large-scale celebrations. These events uplift particular body types, and performers wearing culturally appropriative costumes get cheered for.
So what is a proud queer POC to do for Pride? Here are five ways you can be proud to stay home this month, build meaningful community, and honor your own safety and well-being:
Stay In & Do Self-Care
You don’t need a special month for this, but Pride Month might just make you need it in particular. If you do attend events or parties, make sure to give yourself the gift of down time.
Your identity is true all year long, so it’s ok to pace yourself and not try to show out one month such that you wear yourself out. Life goes on during Pride, and you still need to show up to work and other responsibilities. If you don’t want to go out at all, that’s ok too – your worth as a QTPOC is not defined by which parties or festivals you show up to.
Stay home and make art or write a zine. Stay home and take luxurious baths. Snuggle up with your BFF or partner and binge watch Brown Girls or Two Queens In a Kitchen. Listen to your body and your spirit. Give yourself permission to do what feels right to you.
Reach Out/Check In
Maybe you’re not really into large-scale socializing at all, but you don’t want to isolate either. Reach out to that acquaintance you’ve been meaning to get together with. Check in with the friend you haven’t seen in awhile. One-on-one relationship building is just as important to our individual and collective well-being as any out-and-proud party.
Who have you been meaning to connect with but putting it off? Check in with them. Maybe they are feeling just as disengaged, uncomfortable, and lonely as you are. Get together for coffee, share self-care tips, connect each other with resources, share a laugh over a satirical article on Quntfront, start a tiny book club, plot a protest for next year.
You are no less valid in your identities just because you don’t want to attend certain events, and you are not alone in those feelings.
Support QTPOC Businesses All Month
Who says you need a big event to show your pride? The sustainable efforts we make all year long to support each other are what help to create safer environments for us all.
If you haven’t already prioritized where you shop, Pride Month is a great time to start doing so. You are likely to hear about more QTPOC-owned businesses and organizations that you might not have realized existed before. In the process of doing your shopping, eating out, or otherwise supporting these businesses you may also meet new like-minded people to build with going forward.
You are under no obligation to support LGBTQ businesses and organizations that don’t support you, no matter how much they ask for your support under the banner of Pride.
Build Your Own Gathering
No, I’m not saying create a huge event to rival the mainstream event in your community. Sure, if that’s your thing, by all means create alternate large-scale events, but that’s a lot of work and emotional outlay, especially when you have to defend yourself from charges of being “divisive” and find that potential sponsors have already given what they are willing to the established festival. For our purposes here, I’m talking about small and personal parties.
Throw an intimate gathering in a comfortable setting. Invite who you want to spend time with, and set some ground rules if necessary (no cultural appropriation, no bisexual/pansexual shaming, no predatory behavior towards minors, etc.) Make sure your invites are clear about if and how your space is accessible or not (staircases, fragrance free, reserved area for alcohol/medicinals, food sensitivities, etc.)
Get to know your friends better, and maybe ask them to bring along someone new who also would prefer a smaller scene.
Celebrate QTPOC History
Pride festivals began as sites of resistance – asserting our existence, political activity, and demanding human rights. They have transformed into glitter and rainbow covered fun-fests. While there is nothing wrong with the pleasure aspects, it is a shame we have forgotten about the work and social justice they came from.
Pride 2016 was marred by the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando. Pride festivities around the U.S. and Canada became battlegrounds that openly engaged in Islamophobia, racism, and intentional police engagement. The same people erasing the identities of the overwhelmingly Latinx and Black victims and claiming “We are all Orlando” frequently leave us out in the cold in our own communities.
This is part of a larger false historical narrative, the same narrative that erases Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera as the catalysts of the Stonewall riot in 1969. It’s the same narrative that pretends Queer Muslims don’t exist throughout history. It’s the same narrative that doesn’t tell you Bayard Rustin, Martin Luther King Jr.’s trusted associate, friend, and a lead strategist in the work was gay and pushed to the background for this reason.
When we don’t know our history, outsiders are given the opportunity to control our community. Celebrating our struggles and successes, and what we can learn from them, is far more meaningful than a mere style parade that glamorizes binary identities, heteronormative rights, and impossible-to-maintain beauty standards.
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We are survivors, my QTPOC siblings. We survive colonization, racism, ableism, fatphobia, queerphobia, and so much more – both from within and without our own communities. We have survived being policed for our expressions of queerness even amongst other queer people.
We are powerful, and we are not alone. Rather than asking why we feel so lonely trying to push our way into events that are not for us, let’s build our own worlds with the people who love and celebrate us for all we are.
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A person is laying down on a rainbow flag. They're outdoors on a patch of dirt next to small yellow wildflowers with some trees in the background. The femme in the foreground is waving a trans flag and wearing a flower-printed blouse, a black velvet skirt, red combat boots, and big circular glasses. They have a mustache and dark brown hair.
About Aaminah Shakur:
Aaminah Shakur is a multiracial/multicultural queer crip artist, poet, art historian, and culture critic. They write about intersectional life, including disability/chronic illness, race, gender, sexuality, trauma, and of course, art. You can find more of their writing and art at their website, and follow them on Twitter where they rant too much or Instagram where they post too many pictures of their dog.
About Eve Moreno:
Eve Moreno is a trans and queer multimedia artist of color living in South Central Los Angeles, raised by parents that migrated from Mexico City and Santa Ana, El Salvador. Although their work ranges from writing, video and photography, their passion is taking portraits of trans and queer POC, and they find affirmation in self-portraiture work. Follow Eve on Tumblr, Instagram, and their facebook page.