Saturday, June 1, 2013

June 1, 2013

It’s Pride Month, Poppets! How did we get here already? Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were celebrating the winter holidays? Yet here we are: Pride.
I’ve been thinking about that word, recently – Pride. What does it mean and how do we show it? Can you have pride and still be closeted? Can you have pride and reject labels? Can you have pride and accept someone who is closeted? The answer I have come to, for myself, is yes.
Margaret Cho recently advocated outing people – specifically celebrities – because the only reason you wouldn’t out someone is if you thought there was something wrong with being LGBTQ. Let me tell you how much I love her mindset. Seriously. No snark or sarcasm here. I love this idea. This concept. I love the thought of being able to shout our orientations from the rooftops and having it simply not matter. Because, like so many other LGBTQ people I know, I want it to not matter. I don’t want cookies or kudos or praise. I want it to not matter, the same way my hair being brown and my dislike of mushrooms don’t matter.
The problem is though, it does matter. Everyone I know who is still closeted is closeted for a legitimate reason. Not shame. Not concern that it “might” matter. Not embarrassment. Everyone I know who is still closeted has pride – in themselves, their partners, their orientations, their lives. And each one of them would face dangerous levels of discrimination if they were to come out. Or be outed.
Being out is a privilege. Often it is a hard fought, hard earned privilege, and I will never minimize that. Coming out is not yet easy, regardless of how many feel good stories we read about wonderful, lovingly indifferent parents. I am not saying that people who came out had it easy. There was, however, something that made it possible for them to take that step, and not all of us have that something.
Visibility does not equal acceptance. Ask women, or people of color, or the physically handicapped how well visibility has worked to erase the discrimination they face. Ask the teens and young adults who are bullied and beaten and tortured for their perceived orientation how visibility helped them.
To blame the person is wrong. To out the person is wrong. And yes, I get that Margaret Cho was talking about celebrities, who live in a different kind of a world, a special bubble, which most of us don’t get to live in. But the concept is the same, and it’s still wrong.
I long for the day when coming out or being outed is a nonevent. Where visibility matters. We aren’t there yet. Yes, I believe we are getting there and we are closer than ever before. But we aren’t there yet. Hurting each other – even risking that hurt – by outing each other isn’t the way to get there. That isn’t Pride. I don’t know what that is, but it isn’t Pride.
Enjoy your month, Poppets. Enjoy your Pride. Have Pride. And if you can do so openly and without too much fear, be grateful and don’t judge others too harshly.

Until next month, take care of you – and each other.

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