What Pride Means to Me

Washington Spirit  |   June 30, 2021
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Zoe Wulff

I find that most conversations around Pride center around the communal, the political, the commercial, the exceptional. It tracks within a simplistic breakdown of the path towards equality. You start with the personal, a narrative to help someone empathize and connect. Then you build towards the communal, people bound together over some sort of sameness that to society equates to difference. In doing so a recognition grows that the issues are systemic, so the communal pushes for the political. Political recognition, protection, freedom. All this movement comes with the reclamation of joy and celebration in the face of the world’s insistence on shame. It comes with the reclamation of yourself as a part of the communal because of the political in beautifully loud and exuberant ways that can then be co-opted by the commercial, erasing some of the struggle that came before. It becomes grand and joyous and exceptional. 

I was talking to my brother about Pride a few weeks ago and he mentioned the disconnect he feels with the month of June. My brother often describes us as cabin queers. We don’t really like crowds, we both like to be amongst nature, but not necessarily like -in it- and when we daydream, we daydream of the provincial. In the context of who we are, the disconnect makes sense. 


Because as Pride stands now it’s not really us. It’s not really me. Don’t get me wrong, it has affected almost every aspect of me, it’s just not me and that’s the point. 


As it is redefined by me for me, it’s about the quiet and the subtle. It’s about my own quiet acceptance, about the subtleties of quiet change. Because other than shedding the inward shame and messiness and adding a bit more outward openness, little has changed for me.


It’s about being able to come out within a conversation and not having to start a conversation by coming out. It’s about the quiet, immediate acceptance in the middle of a conversation by another and their small subtle shift of perspective in seeing who you are.


It’s about not having to explain, not having to define. It’s about being able to still have questions and the ability to embrace a fluidity of thought, of feeling, of self.


For me it’s about a quiet gratitude.


It’s about a quiet gratitude to those who have shared the personal, built the communal, pushed for the political, and even a bit for those who have embraced the commercial. Because now I can come back to the personal. I can be unexceptional. I can write. I can read. I can learn. I can do. I can speak. As me. Not as a descriptor of me. I can do it all in my own gentle, quiet reclaiming of the personal as my own because of everyone who has pushed to make Pride grand, joyous and exceptional. Because the whole point is that everyone can exist with Pride defined by the personal as an extension of their own self. In safety and in love. 

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