Progress Pride Flag designed by Daniel Quasar.
[Edited to Add: 6 October, 1998, Matthew Shepard was brutally beaten and left for dead after being discovered to be gay. He died from his injuries six days later. More than two decades after his murder, people are still dying for simply wanting to be, or being, who they are.
One of the celebrations of October is that it is LGBTQIA history month. Before delving into our history as queer people, I would be remiss if I did not, again, turn attention to those of us who are no longer here to celebrate that rich heritage because of hatred and violence.]
A sincere thank you to those of you who provided the responses which are included in this post. This listing is alphabetical, and does not correspond to the order in which the quotes appear: @dameserdaigle, Kay Edinger, Ruth Hund, Lynda Markway, @MusingStar, Stephanie Netzer, and Julie VonOntjes.
Here it is, the beginning the second week of July, but today, I’m reflecting on Pride Month.
I solicited my readership for their thoughts on what Pride means to them. In addition to that, I reviewed relevant posts on Instagram and Twitter. I’m going to share some of those comments here, because I am only one person–and though what I think and feel matters, Pride is not about me… it’s about all of us.
“It means we are all amazing, complicated people, and that should be celebrated.”
“After years of being less than honest, I am now living life as my real self–what a joy!”
“I want those I love and care about to feel safe to love who they love without fear of judgment, discrimination, or harm.”
“Hearing about Pride month sparked my children to ask me questions about what it means. We had a lovely discussion about acceptance and equal rights for all people.”
“I love that it brings… awareness… Not everyone is alike, but everyone is beautiful and deserves beautiful treatment.”
“People should feel good in their lives. … I love my son just as he is!”
“Pride means the ability to be yourself without fear. It means a better world for my pride club students, and [a world] where having a queer teacher isn’t so shocking. It means seeing myself everywhere, not just when I search it out. And it means loving my queer self.”
Which brings me to the reason I have taken so long working on this piece. On May 10th of this year, Bucky Easley, a freshman who self-identified as transmasculine, hung himself in a girls’ bathroom stall at my high school alma mater.
Bucky’s choice of location should not be lost on you, dear reader.
The bathroom is one of the main stressors in life for trans-identified folks. Some people haven’t started their transition, so they use the bathroom that matches their body (but does not match their brain), which can lead to or worsens dysphoria. Some people have started their transitions, but don’t see themselves as passing as the gender to which they are transitioning, and all shared options feel awkward. Worrying about when, where, and if you will be able to take care of one of life’s most basic functions is something the majority of us have the luxury of not having to consider, but which takes up an inordinate amount of time and space in a transperson’s life.
My heart aches for this soul who reached the point that ending his life was the preferable choice over continuing to be traumatized by a family and a society who won’t or can’t understand what it’s like to feel like you’re living a lie; the fact of your very existence and those of others reinforces the incongruity of who you know yourself to be and who they mandate you to be. I understand what it’s like to be so weary of the mental, emotional, and physical contortion required simply to make it to the end of a day and then to convince yourself in the best way you know how to do it all again the next day. And the next day. And the next.
It’s easy for people outside of the community to look at Pride festivities and think it’s all about sex. Pride is about life–it’s about celebrating the fact of where we came from, where we are going, and that we’re still here.
But we are not all still here.
In 2018, at least 26 transwomen were murdered, the majority of them were *women of color.* So far, in 2019, 11 transwomen have been murdered. [ETA: Three months after this post was initially published, there have now been 18 trans women murdered in 2019.]￼Additionally, one transwoman died in El Paso, hours after being released from ICE custody, and one transwoman died in her cell at Riker’s Island.
Their names are:
Dana Martin, 31, Montgomery, AL
Jazzaline Ware, Memphis, TN
Ashanti Carmon, 27, PGC, MD
Claire Legato, 21, Cleveland, OH
Muhlaysia Booker, 23, Dallas, TX
Michelle “Tamika” Washington, 40, Philadelphia, PA
Paris Cameron, 20, Detroit, MI
Chynal Lindsey, 26, Dallas, TX
Chanel Scurlock, 23, Lumberton, NC
Zoe Spears, 23, Fairmount Heights, MD
Brooklyn Lindsey, 32, KC, MO
Denali Berries Stuckey, 29, North Charleston, SC
Tracy Single, 22, Houston, TX
Kiki Fantroy, 21, Miami-Dade County, FL
Pebbles LaDime Doe, 24, Allendale County, South Carolina
Bailey Reeves, 17, Baltimore, MD
Bee Love Slater, 23, Clewiston, FL
Elisha Stanley, age unknown, Pittsburgh, PA]
May 25 of this year, an 18-year-old male shot five people in a home in Detroit, killing Paris Cameron, 20, Alunte Davis, 21, and Timothy Blancher, 20. The alleged murderer confirmed that the attack was specifically because he knew those killed to be gay.
[ETA:August 4 of this year, Jordan Cofer, 22, a transman, was killed by his brother in the Dayton, OH shooting. Cofer was deadnamed and misgendered in media accounts.]
Those are by far the only people violently affected simply for being who they are. This year notwithstanding, every year prior has seen too many episodes of hate to recount here. I would be remiss not to mention that the we just had the third commemoration of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, during which a 29-year-old male murdered 49 people and wounded 53 others, just for being in a known queer establishment. If you’d like to learn more about the history of violence against the LGBTQ+ community in the US, Wikipedia and the Human Rights Campaign are both places you can access more information.
Those who have been murdered, those who have died by suicide, and those who have been harassed, assaulted, and battered, but who are still here, they are what Pride is about. And we will continue to celebrate life until the day that none of us has to worry about being murdered, harassed, assaulted, battered, fired from our jobs, denied our children, or evicted from our homes.
Hie that day.