The Food for Thought at my first Pride.

Happy Pride Month, everybody. I hope you all started the month off by celebrating being your true self, despite a lot of you doing that on the daily. It’s honestly really uplifting to see people so unabashedly representing themselves all over the internet and in real life. From those doing the brightest colors and costumes, to just having a flag hanging up by your door, I’m happy just knowing people are able to represent themselves in whatever way feels right to them.

This is actually a pretty special Pride month for me, since it’s the first since I started actively coming out to people as bisexual. Most years I entirely tuned out Pride month for myself since I was trying so hard to seem typical that I didn’t want to introduce anything that could be seen as a ‘sign’. (Spoilers: It totally didn’t work, apparently.) So I was really excited to head out this year and be as visible as I wanted to be.

I also started to notice a lot of buzz about gatekeeping and who was and wasn’t allowed at Pride. A lot of calls from people on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media that “X is queer and should be allowed at Pride” and “Y isn’t part of the reason for Pride, so shouldn’t be allowed.” and I had to take pause and wonder how it is you can’t assume that people at Pride aren’t someone that should be there?

I mean, you’re at Pride. It’s a huge march and event centered around the LGBTQA+ community, a community that is constantly being overlooked, erased, and underappreciated, but you want to try and tell someone that they can’t come based on how they might look? When there’s no real visual cue about someone’s sex or sexuality or gender expression that you can draw from seeing them for 10 seconds? That feels exclusionary for the sake of it. I mean, the only one I could really understand was that no one wanted uniformed cops at Pride, and given the reason that Pride started, I can see and appreciate why there was discussion and fighting about it. (There’s also this twitter thread about the history of Pride that’s really good as well, give it a look here.)

Then there was Pride itself. The first thing that struck me was that I’m officially in a space where no one is going to assume that I’m straight, which is an awesome feeling. I may not say much about it, but the assumptions that I get from people are always aggravating. And now I got to have a whole space that was nothing but people not assuming anything other than I was here and queer. It’s a great feeling of belonging and totally worth the trip.

And then I noticed there were a LOT of booths for companies there. Sure, there were sex toy shops and vendors for lube and things (both things I could see wanting to show up to Pride for and doesn’t bother me) but also… Progressive Insurance? Like, is this really the space to be trying to sell people car insurance? Or Papa John’s? And while there were a lot of special interest groups for LGBTQA+ things there, there was one that was for LGBTQ couples outings” that was asking for people’s information. My wife wanted to give them the information and upon explaining that we were bisexual and polyamorous, we got a weird look and the clarification they were looking for same sex couples. Thankfully, that didn’t spoil the nice time outside with queer people in the area.

So, what did I come away from my first Pride with? Mostly, a bit of confirmation that it does feel different when you’re in a space that you know accepts you. I definitely plan on going to more Pride-style events and reveling in the overall queerness of it all. Also that I think there’s some weird divisions in the queer community that I hadn’t know about. Maybe there should be less worrying about keeping the gate against people and a little more on the organizations peddling at the events.

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