My name is Emily and I am one of the co-chairs for Alaska Pride. I identify as queer and I have been living in Anchorage for almost 3 years. I love the beauty of the mountains, the snow, the northern lights, the glaciers. But I also love the beauty of the LGBT community. The wonderful people here have gone out of their way to make me feel like Alaska is my home. I hope you enjoy my first post and I look forward to seeing all your beautiful faces at Pride this year!
This one simple word can pack a punch when we think of it as it relates to our community – the LGBT community.Pride may initially make most of us think of a feeling. For me it makes me think of my mom putting up my drawings on the fridge as a child, or more recently, the picture she put up of the halibut I caught last summer. Mothers tend to have this way of making even our most mundane accomplishments feel shiny and special.
But this shiny-specialness can fade away when we start to think of Pride in the queer context. It brings to my mind images that, at first glance, seem less “refrigerator-friendly”: dykes on bikes, men in hot pants, drag queens, shirtless women, raves. While this party-vibe might be what pops into many of our heads it is not how Pride began.
The first gay pride marches happened in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles on June 28, 1970. The point of the march was to mark the one year anniversary of the Stonewall riots. The march was organized as a political act, a statement about the existence of queer bodies, queer people, queer spaces, and queer desires. The Stonewall riots occurred on June 28, 1969, and are so-called because they occurred at the Stonewall Inn in New York City.
Much of the dominant organizing in the LGBT community up to this point in history had been assimilationist in nature, strategizing to blend in and convince the straight community that we are “just like them”. But when the cops showed up at the bar on that early June morning, people instead chose to fight back.
At that point in history, there were many laws regulating what was acceptable in public, and cross-dressing had been deemed inappropriate. History is unfortunately littered with this kind of social policing where the dominating culture chooses what is regarded as “normal” to the detriment of everyone else in society. Even more unfortunately, many movements for civil rights have excluded particular sub groups in the hopes of more quickly gaining acceptance from the dominant culture. People of color, people with disabilities, transgender folks, and many others have all been pushed aside as large social movements have forged on without them.
But more and more people are beginning to understand that intersectionality is a more inclusive way to view the world.
Intersectionality is simply a big, fancy word that means people are more than just one aspect of their identity. For example, I do not exist in a bubble where I am only queer. I am also a woman, I am also white, I am also middle-class. Intersectionality looks at all the different aspects of someone’s identity to determine how they experience society. A single, white, working class, heterosexual woman raising two kids in the city experiences life in a completely different way than a married, black, wealthy, gay male with no children in the suburbs.
This makes sense, really. No person is strictly any one portion of their identity. We are multifaceted individuals. Some of us like leather sex, some of us are bisexual, some of us are furries, some of us feel we have been born into the wrong bodies. And there’s something absolutely fantastic about that.
This is the beauty of Pride: that there is a place for all of us. It is a welcome place for everyone where we say not only “join us” but also “be proud of who you are”. So until next week I’ll leave you with this question:
Who are you and what is it that makes you say “I am proud to be me”?