Special thank you to Pages Promotions LLC for facilitating a poetry reading June 8, 2021 featuring performed selections from my book, Carbon Footprint. Considering it is Pride Month, it was an incredible opportunity reading some of my poems themed around the LGBTQ+ experience. If you are interested in watching the reading, access it through the video link below. Thank you for all the support!
June is notable to many because it marks a month-long celebration of LGBTQ Pride. For most, this means attending vast pride parades, enjoying vibrant spectacles, and ogling half-naked, Greek-God-esque men. At least, that is often the media’s depiction of pride events.
When I was a young gayling far back in 2007, and even before, I was always fascinated by gay pride celebrations because of the media depiction. I, along with other young gay men I knew, were drawn to pride because of the fearless sexualization of other gay men. There was a certain excitement in a provocatively physical public spectacle. For others, pride celebrations were a safe place for us to meet other guys to potentially connect with on an intimate level.
When attending college for my undergraduate degree, I experienced my first pride-week celebration. It involved the usual festivities: a drag show, open-mic poetry night sharing coming out stories, and game sessions- but it also included a considerable amount of educational moments. College pride-week opened my eyes to the deeper meaning behind Pride. I was introduced to Harvey Milk, who I learned was essentially one of the founding voices of the modern LGBTQ-rights movement. I learned about the Stonewall Riots and what they did for LGBTQ liberation. I learned where we came from, understood where we are now, and began to think about our future.
The other day, a gay friend on my Facebook page made a comment stating: “I can’t wait to go to Pride to see all the hot guys.” The comment left me feeling empty because most people view Pride as simply a spectacle. Many don’t acknowledge its roots in history. Pride is about acknowledging the breadth and complexity of what it means to be LGBTQ. This leads to the question: how do we re-claim this aspect of pride?
We must talk about the history more. We must confront comments like the one prior with education. Pride celebrations are safe-spaces for us to be who we are. They also must be safe places for educators to help remind our community where we’ve come from.