A Fractured Pride

So far 2022 feels like a poorly written science fiction reality show racing toward a season finale with a cliff-hanger that has us scratching our heads and asking what the hell just happened! 

It’s already June and according to the celestial calendars, the sun-kissed days and warm starry nights should be upon us. However in Oregon, Mother Nature’s seasonal timeline is in conflict with the astronomical influences leaving us throughout the state shivering with temperatures that feel like late fall or winter. This isn’t a complaint. I’ve personally been actually enjoying the cooler and yes, even the damper weather we’ve been having. I can already hear folks groaning (including Eric, the hubster) about these words. Now that the pandemic is behind us (right!?), we want to strip off our raincoats and long johns to run outside in our Birkenstocks (no socks please) dancing butt-naked in the glow of the seasonal warmth. I get it. It’s been a long and very wet winter. Let’s not forget it was almost a year ago that we were experiencing triple-digit temps (116 degrees 6/28/21) that left many seeking shelter anyway they could from the blistering and deadly heat. So for the moment, I’m enjoying nature’s gift for as long as I can.

June also marks the start of Pride season. A time for celebration of Queer (this word is used broadly to include all LGBTQIA+) communities across Oregon and the rest of the country acknowledging who we are. The time of year when community members, churches, and corporations dust off the rainbow 🌈 flags (D. Quasar’s design is my flag of choice) and march down boulevards to show support for our neighbors, family members, and colleagues. The past two years have forced us to stay in our homes, shelter in place, and kept us reluctantly separated from one another. Our once vibrant City of Roses, having been absent of activity, is now tagged with graffiti and boarded up buildings resembling a ghost town rather than a modern-day west coast destination. During the pandemic we lost many of our favorite Queer places (Hobos, Roxy, CC Slaughters (briefly) too. The few remaining spaces that have survived, are clinging to life support and hanging onto the edge of obscurity. Under such circumstances it’s hard to be joyful, but Pride is something we do need more than ever. 

Right now, we deserve something to celebrate. Even if it’s in the rain, but preferably in sunshine, we should celebrate. Pride for me was never about street parties or parades and I’ve participated in a few from Portland to Amsterdam. Pride has always been about the unification of community and not being afraid or ashamed of being who we are. Some choose to “hide from Pride” because it can be a bit overwhelming and sometimes feels superficial. Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with how you choose (or don’t) to celebrate. If you want to hit every Pride party and event that Portland has to offer to relive those circuit party days, go for it. Just remember, as the slogan goes “enjoy yourself but please be responsible” (concerned citizen speaking). If you do have the stamina, kudos to you and thank you for supporting the local businesses. These days, I have difficulty staying awake past 9pm and the idea of dancing all night sounds like a distant dream. My body has sadly grown accustomed to the lack of social activities these past few years but I’m working on breaking this habit!   

Someone said that laughter heals all wounds and we all could use a good laugh. I’m not talking about a courtesy chuckle. It should be a guffaw. One of those belly-aching-snorting-teary-eyed laughs that makes our faces hurt. This guilty pleasure of enjoyment releases endorphins, exercises our hearts and lungs, and feeds the soul. Making us, albeit briefly, forget about the challenges of today and tomorrow. A laugh is medicine that can’t be politicized and it forces us to be in the moment. I feel the Pride festivities, in all of its various forms, can provide us all with this medicine. So bring on the spectacle of mirrored disco balls, glitter, and feather boas. I’m greedy, and want a double helping of this prismatic goodness. 

I know that Pride is generally observed one month a year and is dedicated to all things GAY (except if you live in Florida), but there is more to our existence than the 30 days allocated to us living our true selves, just like Black History month is for me too. We Queer folks are everywhere. Some of us just are fortunate enough to live in a place (Portland) that is more accepting than others. That’s not to say that Portland is a utopia of Homodom. We too have our share of conservative yahoos (excuse me, folks) who will be present at the festivities who believe because we love who we love, we are doomed to the fiery pits of Hell in the afterlife. To that I say, at least I’ll be in good company! 

I wish these extremists would rally around creating unity and community. Or better yet, putting their energies to ending gun violence, addressing the mental health crisis, and houselessness; something that is too prevalent in our city and state right now. I can’t help but be emotionally impacted by the amount of devastation and despair these days, especially when so many of the victims look like me. Truthfully, these are the things that have been steadily chipping away at the core of my generally sunny and positive temperament creating a sense of fractured Pride within me. I’m fortunate to have the love of my handsome husband and support of our amazing friends (the Posse), to provide balance, perspective, and hope for brighter days ahead. There is something to be said about the power of community and Pride is a reminder that we are not on this journey alone.

In the coming months, the Supreme Court will be hearing cases that will decide if businesses can discriminate against same sex couples for wedding services, and whether or not a foster care agency can deny LGBTQIA+ people from being foster parents. With the conservative majority leading the court, there are definitely uncertain times ahead. 

Luckily, it’s not all gloom and doom. Even as the rain falls, there will always be a rainbow. We are a colorful and resilient group of people with fabulous drag queens/kings to entertain us, dykes on bikes to empower us, and studly muscle bears to excite us by living large. As long as we can laugh, our determination and Pride will drive us to fight for what’s right. 

We will persevere. 

#2022Pride #PrideNW #GayPride #TransPride #BlackPride 

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