A Straight Person’s Guide to Pride
Guest Post by Juanita More!
Once again, Pride Month is upon us. It’s that time of the year when we gay, lesbian, trans, queer, and intersex people get to skip the lines and enjoy the rooftop views by the pool. No questions asked, no explanations offered.
Really, though, Pride is a celebration of individuality and a reminder of the importance of community. If you’re a straight person attending any Pride party or community gathering this month, welcome to our spaces. Well, what’s left of them at least. So I guess, welcome to your spaces that we have taken over. Pride is an opportunity to be yourself, express yourself, and, most importantly, treat everyone with the respect they deserve.
Now let’s get down to the details…
Know your herstory: Pride was a riot
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Not a party so good your grandma calls it a “riot.” Like, an actual riot. Pride in our LGBTQ identity began as a means of survival and, despite what every corporate sponsor wants the world to know, many people around the world, and even in this country, are still fighting for the right to be themselves. Pride and community are our defense against all forms of systemic oppression, from police raids to anti-sodomy laws, anti-trans bathroom bills and more recent efforts to ban adoption by same-gender couples.
Regardless of where you identify on the spectrums of gender or sexuality, you will impress your friends after your fifth vodka soda if you can still remember that Pride is celebrated in June to commemorate the June 28, 1969, Stonewall riots. Those riots were initiated largely by crossdressers, lesbians, and trans women of color who had simply had enough. It took decades for that movement to grow into one of the most visible celebrations of – at best – our community’s gorgeous diversity, and – at worst – rainbow colored beer koozies.
Let’s focus on the positive framing… In the immortal words of gay liberation and transgender activist Sylvia Rivera: “You’ve been treating us like shit all these years? Uh-uh. Now it’s our turn! It was one of the greatest moments of my life.”
Knowing this history before you venture out the door will get you far. And you’ll get even further knowing that almost 3 years prior to the famed Stonewall Riots, there was the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. While Stonewall may be the more direct catalyst for the Pride Parade as we know it, the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot was actually one of the first LGBTQ riots in the country and played a large part in igniting the transgender rights movement in the United States.
Be Respectful, Get Laid
Even if you’re straight-identifying, don’t be surprised or offended if someone assumes you’re gay or bi during Pride. It’s like most days of the year when you can safely skate through the world on the assumption that you’re straight, except this day’s for the gays. By that same token – and listen closely – do not assume that just because someone else is gay that they’re into you. While some in the LGBTQ community may fetishize straight culture, there are just as many who don’t have the time of day to tiptoe around your cisgender masculinity.
Pride can be a great opportunity to make furtive eye contact and make out on the dance floor with genderqueer or same gender new friends. Hormones will be raging and various substances will remove inhibitions, but as fun, as that sounds, it’s also a dangerous recipe for inflicting new trauma or recalling dormant trauma for folks who have likely already experienced a lot of it.
Here’s the bottom line: at Pride, people aren’t being gay for you, and your straight lens is bound to miss a lot of important nuances. But if you remain both open and mindful, you might just make a connection that results in a peach scene you’ll never forget. When in doubt, err on the submissive side.
Be a great ally
noun: ally; plural noun: allies
side with or support (someone or something).
“he allied himself with the forces of change”
Listen to what your LGBTQ peers have to say; we want you by our side in championing equality for everyone. Language is ever evolving and while there are dozens, maybe even hundreds of words used to describe gender, transgender, and gender non-conforming (TGNC) people’s experiences and identities, we are only going to list a few here – the ones most commonly used.
People who reject traditional gender identities and seek a broader and deliberately ambiguous alternative to the label LGBT may describe themselves as queer.
Refers to a person whose sex at birth is different than who they know they are on the inside.
Gender Non-Conforming (GNC)
Refers to people who do not follow society’s ideas or stereotypes about how they should appear or act based on the sex they were assigned at birth.
An umbrella term for all (a)genders other than woman/man; Not all trans people are non-binary and not all nonbinary people are trans.
An adjective used to describe someone who identifies with the sex they were assigned at birth.
An umbrella term for people whose gender identity is outside of, not included within, or beyond the binary of female and male.
When talking about people in general, we will use the pronoun they. Increasingly, people who do not identify with society’s rigid gender norms are identifying with the pronoun they. Therefore, they do not necessarily mean more than one person.
Pull a look together
If you haven’t been thinking about your Pride lewk for the past 11 months, you may not be LGBTQ. Gay culture is giving the beach whatever body you want to give it. All eyes will be on you if you take the time to work a look.
Now, when it comes to looks, I’m both the literal and figurative Queen. I’ve dressed for Pride as the gay Statue of Liberty, a bee with a giant stinger, and everything in between. What I’m trying to say is, this is your opportunity to wear something cute, but it’s not your opportunity to compete.
The official color of Pride is the entire color spectrum, an infinite refraction of light. Thanks to Gilbert Baker, artist, gay rights activist, and the gay Betsy Ross, the LGBTQ community has a worldwide symbol of recognition: the Rainbow Flag. Though it is now available in many forms, from keychains to the aforementioned beer cozies, it’s at its best waving high atop a flagpole, a billowing beacon of hope, acceptance, diversity, and community. No one is going to get mad at you for wearing the rainbow at Pride, but no one will be that impressed either.
Be creative about your outfit and put on something that really allows your personality and style to speak. You might just cleverly adapt your normal clothes to fit just a bit tighter – and looser – in all the right places.
Remember: the look is half of it. The other half is how well you work the look. As someone who gets paid to work looks, I can tell you it isn’t always easy. If it’s your first time, you should definitely practice in those heels before taking the proverbial stage.