To All The Queer People I’ve Judged Before

But to celebrate pride, to come out of the closet, we have to acknowledge how we are put into closets and the closets we still keep inside.

Now in my 30s, and living in a college town in Alabama I think a lot about the process of pride. How we come to the joys of it, and the transformations that lead us out of shame and out of the closet.

Look there. I’m not that. Look there. At least I’m not that.

Don’t look here. Never look here.

This year also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a protest against homophobic and racist police practices whose coverage brought many individuals out of the closet and into the streets. As I learned more about the history of Pride we see that it was always an expression of resistance by the most marginalized of society. In June of 1969 queer queens like Marsha P Johnson, and other mostly queer people of color led a revolt against the injustices practiced by police in carrying out raids and enforcing codes of law meant to deny the humanity of queer people. Reading the stories of what happened over those days, and the people bold enough to stand up for what would eventually be considered rights I can’t help but think about the queer people I’ve known. The ones out on the vanguard.

Johnson with her friend and fellow activist Sylvia Rivera outside City Hall in New York at a rally for gay rights around April 1973. In the years since her death, Johnson’s legacy has soared. She has been praised for her insistent calls for social and economic justice; for working on behalf of homeless street youth ostracized for not conforming to traditional ideas about gender; and for her advocacy on behalf of AIDS patients. Diana Davies, via New York Public Library

I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t understand that the world I had swallowed told me that there wasn’t room for you. That in my desire to hide myself from the world I turned attention towards you.

You were bright and bold. You were fearless in a world designed to destroy you, you were loud in a world designed not to hear you.

This ‪#pridemonth goes out to the ones who came before we were ready.

The queer ones who were loud before we were able to listen. The ones who took the attention while we hid in the shadows waiting to bloom. We didn’t deserve you.

All we can do is thank you. Thank you, and love you.‪


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