We offer more than fashion tips

This weekend we’ll be having the big gay pride celebrations here in Seattle, and the Supreme Court has made them extra special. If you’ve been reading my blog you most likely know this, but for the record I’m out and proud as a dyke, a queer, and a lesbian. Today I’m going to share a few secrets of happiness with you from our community to yours (however you yourself identify). Like many of us, I’ve learned some of these the hard way.

  • Be who you are, no matter what. Others may not understand you, but you’re only going to be happy being you. Trying to fit into a model or a pattern set by someone else just makes you unhappy. I used to try to make myself girly because I felt it would get me more temp work (which I hated anyway) and because I believed what I had been told–that if I didn’t do this I was “letting myself go”. Because I only wear makeup for drag and don’t do the frilly stuff, I was told I needed to “fix myself up”. Hogwash! I am me being me. It’s really what I’m best at, and joy is the best cosmetic out there.
  • You are not the only one. These days there are more openly gay celebrities, so I think that fewer gay kids grow up thinking that they are the only gay person in the world. I am so grateful for this. No matter who you are, there are other people like you, and you will discover them. Just this evening at square dancing I had a lovely discussion with fellow dancers and found out they love to talk about Shakespeare as much as I do. Embrace your passions, and know that you can find your tribe.
  • Be proud of who you are. Most people do not realize how fabulous they are, and our complexities make us all the more beautiful. You may have walked a rough path to get to this moment in time and you may not yet have achieved even a fraction of what you plan to do. You may have even made mistakes or done something wrong. Odds are you’re doing your best. Hold your head up high and let people know who you are. If you’re not proud of yourself because you’re hurting yourself or others, know that you can change your direction at any time.
  • No matter what you do, some people are going to love you and some are going to hate you. This may sound pessimistic, but it actually gives you so much freedom. People are really random, and no matter what you do, no matter what rules you follow, some of them are just not going to like you. You may as well be yourself, and have people understand who you truly are. Odds are, they’ll be enchanted–if they’re not, you don’t need them in your life.

The older I get, the more I understand these things. This is my gift to you at Pride. Get out there and be you–the world is waiting.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
248. What can you do to be more fully you? Take a step in that direction, or even better, a giant leap.

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So much more than rainbows

June is officially Gay Pride Month, and as we all wait to see what the Supreme Court will do on some very important decisions, I am contemplating next week’s Gay Pride Parade here in Seattle. Many people have asked why we’re so loud when we’re proud; why we have to march through the streets; why businesses around town have to sport rainbow flags to show we’re welcome to shop there. I’ll tell you. I’m a lesbian, so I have strong opinions on this issue.

We are waiting on the courts to decide on rights that everyone else already has. As I write this, many of my queer brothers and sisters can be fired because of who they are–legally. I have a close friend who was just fired for being gay. That’s illegal here in Seattle, but it still happens. GLBT people face harassment around the globe and across the United States. We’re assaulted; we’re discriminated against; we’re murdered. Yes, things have gotten better, but even the people who support us sometimes treat us like stereotypes instead of people.

I know people within the gay community who dislike the parade for this reason. They argue that the parade showcases the most flamboyant among us, those with the most alternative liftestyles. It’s true, those may be the people you notice. It’s also true that there are some of us who blend in more than others. Some assert that we’re just like heterosexuals except for the people we choose to love and have sex with. That’s not really true.

It’s true in a Shakespearean sense–if you cut us we bleed; if you tickle us we laugh. It’s not true in a cultural sense. We are a part of the larger culture, but we also have our own rich culture and tradition. Who we love and how we exist as a group shapes us as a people, and it is intrinsically linked to who we are. We are the accountants, the dog lovers, the librarians. We are the drag queens, the leather daddies, the dykes on bikes. We are so many things and the parades represent them all.

I’m in favor of the parades because they showcase our variety to the community at large. I’ve also experienced the healing power of the parade. Even in liberal places, hateful treatment comes when you least expect it. Many queer people do not have supportive families, and we form our own chosen families for this reason. We never know when we’re going to be treated differently or even harmed just because of who we are. I’ve marched down the streets of Seattle as part of the parade. It may seem silly, but it helps to hear that PFLAG loves me; to hear the cheers of the crowd as they support our display of pride. It makes me cry every damn time.

No doubt some are there to gawk. Many more are there to be supportive. I understand that some queer people are tired of the rainbow being plastered on everything. I understand that some companies are just pandering to our pocketbooks. I know that some people just like to come out and party. I understand all this, but I still think it’s important. We’re still fighting for our rights and acceptance, and every little bit of support and community is very helpful.

Our community is diverse and beautiful. I cannot speak for every part of it, nor even for every lesbian. We are individuals, but we are tied together by common threads. I’ll be attending the pride festivals once again this year, marching in the Dyke March, and waiting anxiously for the Supreme Court to rule on our right to marry. Happy Pride!

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
247. Attend Pride festivities in your local area. If you are not part of the LGBTQI community, attend as an ally and learn about the rich variety of gay people out there beyond television stereotypes. For extra credit, go to Wikipedia and check out Stonewall to see why we started marching.

Your link, should you desire to follow it:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonewall_riots

I am who I am

Today’s blog is being brought to you by the pink triangle, the rainbow sign and the letter “Q”. This weekend is Gay Pride in Seattle, celebrated on different dates in different places but often near the very end of June to remember the Stonewall riots, a landmark in the gay civil rights movement.

I write Yay! Pigeons to focus on joy, not on politics, so I’m going to address Gay Pride from that angle, too. It gives me great joy to see committed loving couples who live in the state of California being able to celebrate their relationships by getting married. I celebrate the parade that’s going to go right through the center of downtown, acknowledging the diversity and presence of queers in this city. It gives me a sense of satisfaction that the cultural contributions of the LGBT community are being honored during this month.

I love living in Seattle, and part of that is the thriving gay community we have here. I want to single out one joyful organization for mention. I really like the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the Abbey of Saint Joan. If you aren’t familiar with the sisters you might want to check out some of the links I’m including. The sisters are a global organization who raise funds for charity and provide community education and outreach. They do this while dressed in festive nun drag, which makes them controversial. As a devout seeker of joy, I love them for their mission statement: “We are an order of 21st Century nuns dedicated to the promulgation of universal joy and the expiation of stigmatic guilt.” That’s truly a mission I can get behind.

Some gay people don’t like the inclusion of groups like this in the parades and festivals because they believe it reflects poorly on our community. I disagree—I am proud to be part of a community that has so many members who are willing to express themselves in all of their individual and creative glory. Members like the Sisters also help to support the community as a whole. I will cheer for them as they walk on by. Yay Sisters! Happy Pride, everyone.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

135. Take time today to celebrate the unique and marvelous creature that is you—gay or straight, nerdy or hip, skinny or fat. Be proud of whoever you are, and rejoice in it.

Links, should you desire them:

About the Stonewall riots: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonewall

About the Sisters: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sisters_of_Perpetual_Indulgence

About the Sisters, by the Sisters: http://www.theabbey.org/about/about.html