It’s LGBTQ Month…Hurray?
In the U.S., “we” (the government/people in power/elected officials…many of whom often buy their victories) pick certain months of the year to “celebrate” the peoples who don’t have much power in this country. There’s a month for just about every group of color and/or ethnicity. (Though to my knowledge, there’s no month for Arab peoples or Muslims. No surprise there.) I’m an Askenazi Jew (translation: a white Jew whose roots are Eastern European; specifically, my maternal grandparents were from Odessa, Russia, and my paternal grandparents were from Yassi, Romania). Right now, with Russia staging a war in the Ukraine, when I see news stories and pictures of Elder women with babushkas on their heads, I wonder if some of these women are my relatives. I guess I’ll never know.
I digress…back to Pride month…
June is officially designated by the U.S. government as LGBTQ month. “We” get to have our own month! Cool! Right? I don’t know. I’m not convinced. Though most white LGBTQ people have relatively “good lives,” what does this mean? If you are a queer white poor person, you don’t necessarily have a great life. If you are poor in the U.S., you might be homeless or live in a place where your landlord doesn’t give a shit about your ”home.”
If you are a young queer person, especially a young queer person of color, as a group, you are more likely to think about suicide than “heterosexual” young people.
If you identify as “transgender,” especially as a person of color, you often have huge barriers to face. You are more likely to have less access to a safe home. Perhaps you face rejection within your circle of family. Ru Paul (whom I love!) is famous and “successful,” but they are a rarity.
I just looked at my email on line and learned that June is also ”Brain Health Awareness Month.” Interesting, I have something called vascular dementia, which means I don’t have a ‘normal’ blood flow to my brain, so I forget stuff. If I don’t take careful notes about everything, I might forget to attend a meeting. When I do attend meetings, I work incredibly hard to be “present.” I use up my energy in public to sound smart, say the right things, smile appropriately, etc. After a meeting, I often collapse, and am exhausted. When I write, it’s equally challenging. Can I stay on track? Say what I want to say? Be clear?
Sorry, I keep digressing. Back to LGBTQ Month. I’ve been watching on TV, on the National Geographic channel, a history of LGBTQ life in the U.S. (the show is called PRIDE). Each show focuses on a decade, and shows footage of various demonstrations, and has interviews with LGBTQ writers and activists, and some footage of right-wing nut jobs who have worked hard to eradicate our lives (e.g. Anita Bryant). I’ve enjoyed these shows because I’ve lived through many of these decades. I been lucky enough to have taken long bus rides from Buffalo, New York (where I came out in the 70’s) to Washington, D.C. to attend many of the historic marches and demonstrations shown on these shows. I saw the AIDS Quilt unfolded in Washington, D.C. I lost too many gay brothers during the AIDS pandemic (though it was not called a pandemic then…just an epidemic). I shed too many tears as I watched young gay men die from a disease that could have been treatable much earlier than it was. This country did not want to deal HIV/AIDS…until straight people started to get sick. (But that’s another story…for another blog.)
Are LGBTQ people safe today in the U.S.? If we live in large urban areas, we are more likely to be safe, though as a woman, and visibly not very feminine, if I am walking alone at night, I’m always vigilant. If I were a queer woman of color, I’d be facing both racist and homophobic abuse. And if I were a visibly transgender person, multiply the possibilities.
In the Twin Cities, we have a large, visible and quite vocal queer population, most of whom are white (as well as queer elected officials & many elected officials who support “us,” so they can get our vote—though we do have a POC trans woman who is a member of the Minneapolis City Council). The result of having this large population is that we have MANY queer events during the month of June. I’ve lost count of how many events I’ve seen posted online. I’m not sure that I will attend many of these events. Why? Pride month and these events and the parade originated as marches for GAY LIBERATION. We certainly celebrated, but we were pissed and we were fighting for liberation, not just for “us,” but for all people. As Audre Lorde said, (and I paraphrase), WE ARE NOT FREE UNTIL ALL OF US ARE FREE. And all of us ain’t free. If you are a person of color anywhere, police are not necessarily there to “protect” you. I think about Mr. Floyd who was killed by a white cop in my old neighborhood in South Minneapolis. White cops still kill people of color.
So, I don’t think about partying during LGBTQ Month. When I’ve gone to Loring Park in downtown Minneapolis where the “celebration” happens, it’s one big party. I don’t feel the power of the early years, where we were fighting for justice and liberation. I might go to some events here but I don’t want to just party. There’s an Elder Brunch for Pride; I might do that’s because I am an Elder. If I do attend any events, it will depend on simple things, like will there be parking available? I use a cane and can’t walk a mile. And again, Pride Month is about liberation for me, not about partying. Don’t get me wrong…I’m proud to be an out dyke for over half my 71 years on the planet. The closet? That’s where I hang my clothes.
I’m not sure I have more to say, so I’ll stop here. Please think about this month, but connect it to LIBERATION. Thanks.