It’s raining men, and not the ones The Weather Girls sang about. They’re raining on Pride parades with violent intent. A U-Haul truckful of members from the white supremacist group, Patriot Front, was arrested before they could disrupt a Pride event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Proud Boys stormed a Drag Queen story hour at a library in San Lorenzo, CA. Baptist ministers in Idaho and Texas went viral for calling on the government to execute gay people. Cancel all the hallelujahs for them.
In all seriousness, though, this is why Pride will always be a protest. Always has been. Because there will be haters who want queer communities snuffed out of existence. Bad news for the haters: the LGBTQ+ communities are not going anywhere. They have always been here to live life as their full authentic selves.
So in the spirit of being queer to stay, here’s your (inexhaustive) reading guide for Pride.
The ace world today has become broad enough to include many types of people. There are many types of aces, for one, who describe ourselves as sex-repulsed, sex-indifferent, or sex-favorable depending on how averse we are to sexual material and sexual activity. The ace world also includes people who identify as gray-asexual, or gray-A, a more catchall phrase that encompasses experiences like only occasionally experiencing sexual attraction or not experiencing it very strongly.
Ballroom’s house system exists on a more personal and visceral level. Yes, Ballroom is a response to classism, racism, transphobia, and a list of other chronic cultural constructs, but at its core Ballroom is an answer to an act against nature: parents disowning their children . . . . Everyone in Ballroom has an origin story of how someone in the community took them in and/or under their wing, became their gay mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, or uncle.
me raptaste de mi hogar,
castigándome por no llamarte míster.
aprendí tus malas palabras,
y te maldije en tu idioma
para que entendieras.
decías que mi acento era muy fuerte.
you stole me from my home,
punished me for not calling you mister.
i learned your bad words,
cursed you in your language
so you would understand.
you never understood.
you told me my accent was too thick.
—Raquel Salas Rivera, de/from “calibán a próspero”/“caliban to prospero”
every LGBT person contributes something, whether they are teachers, cashiers, nurses, custodians, in the beauty industry, unpaid caregivers, and truck drivers or whether they are in the underground or informal economy. Their individual human losses from being unfairly targeted turn into our collective social losses as we miss out on the full benefit of their skills, experience, and creativity.
—M. V. Lee Badgett
Apart from her pseudonymous fiction, Lorraine didn’t spend much time writing about women’s beauty. Maybe she worried that it would sound frivolous (or even too feminine) in comparison to the way many of her literary heroes wrote character descriptions. Perhaps she worried that her attentiveness to female beauty might be too revelatory. But in truth, these lush descriptions were in line with a tradition of Black women’s writing with which Lorraine was familiar, from Harlem Renaissance novelists Nella Larsen and Jessie Fauset to the Chicagoan Gwendolyn Brooks.
The American idea of sexuality appears to be rooted in the American idea of masculinity. Idea may not be the precise word, for the idea of one’s sexuality can only with great violence be divorced or distanced from the idea of the self. Yet something resembling this rupture has certainly occurred (and is occurring) in American life, and violence has been the American daily bread since we have heard of America. This violence, furthermore, is not merely literal and actual but appears to be admired and lusted after, and the key to the American imagination.
—James Baldwin, from “Here Be Dragons”
As we head toward the middle decades of the twenty-first century, Two-Spirit futures are focused on decolonizing gender identities and sexual expression—but not only on this. They’re about continuing the conversation about the type of language that best defines a fluid, blended sense of identity. They’re about reclaiming traditions and telling new stories. And they’re about playing a role in meeting the challenges confronting Native communities, including the continued struggle to decolonize virtually every facet of Indigenous life while also identifying ways to address the most pressing existential threat of our time: human-induced climate change.
—Gregory D. Smithers
Even as a child I gathered that Aretha’s music, especially her classic Atlantic recordings, was an extension of church. The air changed. A sense of reverence rained down as her voice soared from the speakers. I straightened up and listened. Coupling the sky-ripping strength of Aretha’s voice with Mama’s warrior-woman presence, I felt protected in Daddy’s absence.
Our histories have been erased and whitewashed. We are told that transness is new, that transition is unprecedented. We know this to be patently untrue, but anti-transness continues to find new ways to protect the binary (see the contemporary emergence of gender reveal parties). It remains up to us to track down and preserve our own histories for ourselves. Leslie’s work showed me that it was possible to make history—to find, create, and archive the histories of those who laid the groundwork for us, who showed us how to move beyond the gender binary, and who existed all throughout time as their most full, beautiful, and expansive selves.
—Tourmaline, from the introduction of the twenty-fifth anniversary edition
I wondered that December day
What I would miss. December light:
The air liquid and grey
An hour before the ambiguous hour.
Time when the mind’s half-filled with dreams.
The gift of pure dazzling consciousness.
Some books. And music, not to be heard again.
The touch of flesh, your hand.
—Colm Tóibín, from “December”