Friday, June 24, 2011

Happy Pride!


This is Pridefest weekend in St. Louis…hooray!

I’ll be at the festival Saturday and Sunday…and I’ll be marching in the parade with Planned Parenthood along with my fellow activists too.

Pridefest is a fun two-day event here in St. Louis…but it is also an opportunity to meet folks from across the region, some of who are experiencing active discrimination and bullying in their communities.

I remember an encounter a few years ago, when I was at a booth distributing the Pride Pages. A young lesbian couple approached and I asked them whether they were enjoying the weekend.  It was hot as hell…humid and muggy from a recent rain shower…and I felt like I was literally going to melt.

Translation – I was kind of bitter.

But the two women before me were all smiles and happiness. 

They held hands…arms swinging…and told me that it was a rare pleasure to be able to do that in an accepting environment that celebrated love.  One woman said that she feared having her employer find out that she is a lesbian because she was certain she would be fired.

Hands clasped together…

Her fears were and are valid – in the state of Missouri, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people can be fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes, refused access to public services, and denied parenting rights.

Fingers entwined…

They thanked me for being a part of a festival they look forward to every year.

Arms swinging in rhythm to the music floating through the crowd…

I thanked them for attending…for sharing their story.

United.

And I was reminded, as I am every June, what the movement for LGBTQ equality and rights is about.

Protection from harassment, discrimination, and bullying.

Education and empowerment that will make our communities more inclusive and stronger for it.

Visibility with out fear…love without violent repression.

Pride.

Have a fantabulous Pridefest, y’all!

I hope to see you at Tower Grove Park…

5 comments:

Prosey said...

Big big love, Shark-Fu!

I wish I could get downtown this weekend, am trying to carve something out. Been TOO long since I've been to Pridefest.

Ashley said...

A past boss of mine was a lesbian and spoke about her partner often. Even just brief references my boss made about her partner conveyed the sincere and genuine love they shared. For some reason I felt a deep sense of gratitude that she spoke to me about her partner so often, even after just meeting me.

Being true to who you are takes a ton of courage at times. I admire my past boss for owning who she is. I realize not everyone can be as open about their sexuality, like the woman in this blog post who could lose her job for being a lesbian. For those of you who find yourselves in the same predicament, I hope you feel comfortable enough one day to be open about your sexuality. I really do, because hiding a part of who you are hurts. Here's to what's to come! Happy Friday!

Anonymous said...

i'll be working the planned parenthood booth this morning! so excited cuz it's the first time i'll be volunteering with them!

Beyond The Political Spectrum said...

I've been wondering if being so tolerant of gay/lesbian re-definition of the family is good for the black community already devastated by broken traditional families?

Shark-fu said...

Well, since black people can also be LGBT people...and traditional families beg the question - what tradition and whether that tradition was ever worth aspiring to...

...I happen to think celebrating empowerment, justice and equality is a pretty damn good thing for ALL people to do, particularly black people.

I don't need tolerance...people tolerate a stench...so I don't try to "tolerate" others.