By Bex Mui, she/her
It’s June, which for me and many folks in the LGBTQ+ community means one thing: Pride.
I remember my first window into pride celebrations in New York City as a newly out 19 year-old. Having grown up in small-town Massachusetts, I was still new to parades and large gatherings in general, and was absolutely awestruck by the feeling of being in such a diverse crowd. As the only biracial, Chinese and Polish queer kid on the block for most of my young life, I was more used to sticking out in a group than being able to fit in a crowd.
Pride parades offered me a space to not only fit in, but showed me left and right that regardless of how I stood out, I’d be welcomed and celebrated. I wore out the batteries on my digital camera that June, trying to capture what I was seeing, trying to hold on to what I was feeling for the first time.
It’s now 2022, and after over a decade of prides, queer community organizing, and working directly in LGBTQ+ social justice advocacy, I can’t say that I have the same relationship to pride parades as I did then. I’m highly conscious of Rainbow Capitalism and the ever-growing role that allies play at Pride. Meanwhile, I’ve built a life for myself that, 365 days of the year, is fully saturated with queer and trans folks who I call family.
Still, I haven’t forgotten that feeling, and the life-saving space that pride gatherings brought to little me. And because I work with people and communities across the country, I’m fully aware that each year there are people of all ages who are finding that same indescribable joy from pride parades and the affirming space they can provide.
My relationship to pride has evolved with me and my queerness, and that’s ok. As a queer spiritual organizer, one of my main principles is, “Why reject, when we can reclaim?” I apply this to many aspects of my life, including holidays. And to me, Pride is the holiday we deserve.
I believe thoroughly in reclaiming pride because I feel that there is value in carving out time to celebrate together as a community. This year, however unpredictable our world may be, let’s breathe into pride celebrations, and see what they can be for us.
There is no right way to celebrate pride month or pride weekend. Despite the progress of LGBTQ+ rights in our country, we still live in a heteronormative, cisnormative world that adds not only additional labor but also violence and discrimination. This especially true for our community members who are both queer or trans and also Black, indigenous and/or disabled. Our resilience, our joy, our collective work towards liberation—that’s worth leaning into and celebrating every year.
Here are some considerations as you grow your own pride rituals:
Get to the Roots: Pride. It may sound silly, but in all the fuss to reject, we can forget what the core idea of this celebration is: reveling in joy, affirmation, and self-love as LGBTQ+ people and delicious queer communities. Take some time to reflect on what makes you feel proud of who you are, how you live, and your relationships and connections, whether romantic, emotional, intellectual, sexual, or some juicy combination.
You Don’t Have to Party to Celebrate: Pride is here for the introverts too! It’s ok to stay in, to say no to plans, or to bring in a sober pride. Create your own yearly ritual in your community. Try finding something that feels good to you, with people who you can be your full self with. That can mean a day of giving back, of sending affirmations to loved ones, or writing pride cards to incarcerated queer folks.
But You Can Party to Celebrate: For the party people, extroverts, and fiery folks who enjoy the hustle and bustle of Pride, those of us who enjoy Pride’s time to be out, to see and be seen, I see you too. At Pride, it is easy to feel like you have to keep it all together. To have the look, the words, the presence. My offering to you is to lean in, enjoy yourself, and recharge on the energy of the crowds and the moments. Find those new boos. And also just let yourself be. Be messy. Be present. Go and flow where you feel called while honoring boundaries. Don’t focus on saying and doing and being the “right thing” this weekend. Focus on pride and affirmation for yourself. You deserve it.
Remember and Research the History: Pride’s origin as a radical, anti-police brutality riot led largely by Black and Latina trans women and their dyke and drag queer friends is one hell of a root. Reject all you want, but never forget that the first folks gathering together on June 28th, 1970 were there to take up space in rebellion after the Stonewall Riots. Marsha P. Johnson—activist, sex worker, and co-founder of STAR for trans homeless youth, and honorable Transcestor was there when the original pride foundations were built, and the first bricks were thrown against anti-LGBTQ discrimination and hate.
Consider: How are you centering and working in solidarity with the system-impacted folks in our community who need it most? How are you showing your allyship within the LGBTQ+ community?
One of the many brilliant thoughts that Marsha P. Johnson shared with us while we were lucky enough to have her in this lifetime includes, “History isn’t something you look back at and say it was inevitable, it happens because people make decisions that are sometimes very impulsive and of the moment, those moments are cumulative realities.”
Every June, we have an opportunity to come together as a community. To show up for each other across the country and across the world and to exist in a united front of unapologetic, sex-positive, kink-positive, gender fuckery and queer joy. That is a history that I want to be a part of. That is what I want for my future, and for our collective queer community revolution. It’s what I fight for all year and where I cast my spells, hone my energy, and rest my faith.
This Pride, wherever you are on your journey, I invite you to join me.
If you enjoyed this, you can find more spiritual offerings in my upcoming book, House Of Our Queer: Healing, Reframing, and Reclaiming Your Spiritual Practice. Find out more and pre-order now.
In Solidarity, Bex