Pride Is A Verb
By Angela Summers, MA, LPC
A couple of weeks ago the rainbows started to pop, and it seemed like every commercial was trying to sell me something using actors portraying non-heterosexual couples. I scream for my wife to come look when LGBTQ+ people are depicted in commercials. We literally pause and rewind to watch them. So what is this feeling inside? What is this dead spot around the edge that turns to rage as I move in closer? Why does every slogan, every good intention, every product wrapped in a rainbow make my chest tighten, and my jaw clench?
I practice this for a living- reminding others and myself to notice what is happening in our bodies, name the sensations and any emotional quality, ask the part if it has any information for us. And still sometimes I walk around a couple of weeks being annoyed I feel a particular way when I “should” be feeling something else. Anger is uncomfortable AND it often knows the way to the places that need our attention, the places that are hurting.
Every LGBTQIA+ person we meet is carrying heartache from direct and collective experiences of harm inflicted when individuals, families, cultures, governments, religions, or other institutions invalidate, pathologize (looking at us mental health community), demonize, criminalize, shame, discriminate, torture, and murder based on LGBTQIA+ identity. A rainbow band-aid does not make the bleeding stop. It is only through acknowledging how we, systems, and institutions are causing harm, immediately followed by corrective action that has any chance. For those that are already lost through hate crimes and suicides, nothing brings them back.
Pride was born out of the necessity of LGBTQIA+ people to protect their lives, create safe spaces, and secure basic human rights. Pride is dismantling oppressive systems that have and continue to terrorize LGBTQIA+ people. Pride is seeking the liberation of all LGBTQIA+ people along with every oppressed and marginalized group of people because LGBTQIA+ people are also part of those groups (and it is just the right thing to do). Pride is actively unearthing the ways in which LGBTQIA+ people and their history, struggles, and contributions were and continue to be erased. Pride is asserting there is no wrong or right way to be non-heterosexual, trans, non-binary, or queer as these false narratives further oppression. Pride is searching for any place you have internalized harmful messages about yourself or any member of the LGBTQIA+ community and choosing to do the work to be a safe person. Pride is caring for ourselves because self-preservation is an act of political warfare, thank you, Audre Lorde. Pride is radical self-love, thank you, Sonya Renee Taylor, and a love for ALL those in the LGBTQIA+ community. Pride is knowing none of this happens without BIPOC, especially Trans Women of Color, who despite being the most targeted because of the intersectionality of their identities, have and continue to show up in ways no one else can nor dares to. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
When we are having all the feels, may we make time to be with them, listen deeply, and receive their offerings. When we are hurting, may our truest selves and community reconnect us to our inherent worthiness, our healing, our Pride. When we are celebrating, may we honor those who came before us, embody the radicalness of our joy, and fiercely fight to make it safe for all to come out.
Resources for education & support:
JENNIFER EULBERG, MA, LPC
Welcome Jennifer, our new blogger!
Jennifer is a counselor at Sandhill who specializes in depression, self-esteem, and grief & loss. Get to know Jennifer as she shares her perspectives on life, contemplates value themes, and offers gentle encouragement.
THANK YOU to Stefanie Pisarkiewicz, LPC for her blog contributions from November 2014 - February 2019!