Since today is the first day of Pride Month I thought I would talk about my feelings, thoughts, and history of Pride. This Pride will be my first experience with our community's protest celebration. I call it that, because in my heart and mind that is what it is.
My View on the Trans Community's Place
The modern gay rights movement and Pride rose from the ashes of the Stonewall Inn Riots. Sylvia Rivera and her close friend Marsha P. Johnson were our representatives in those riots. They helped lead the LGBTQ community and America out of the dark ages. Their leadership means that the trans community is fundamentally and historic equals within the larger LGBTQ community.
When people try to deny our place within the LGBTQ community, they do it out of ignorance. If you're trans never forget role in the beginning and never accept any argument that tries to separate us from the LGBTQ community.
Now Let's Get Personal
The only time I ever thought about going to Pride was back in 1997. I was interning at the San Francisco District Attorney's Office for two Assistant District Attorney's. One of the Attorney's, Thanh D. Ngo was openly gay and he and asked me if I wanted to march in the Parade with the SFDA's Office. I wanted to go and support him because I looked up to him. I interned for Thanh during his first trials as a lawyer. I helped him and Assistant District Attorney Judy Lee win all five of the cases they took to trial that summer. I admired their work product and they way they treated me and interacted with me. I felt fully part of the team, even when I running down evidence or wiping VICE tapes on my own. The internship was an amazing experience. While I had a lot of trust and work put upon my shoulders that summer, the internship didn't pay a thing.
The lack of a paycheck meant that I had to work two other jobs just to make ends meet. It was a struggle and I was constantly worn out and broke. When Thanh asked me to march in the Parade he did it on short notice. What I never told him was that he had caught me on a weekend in which I was searching the couches of my fraternity for change. I knew I couldn't afford the cost of making an extra trip to San Francisco, so I had to turn Thanh down. I've always felt horrible about doing that because I wanted to support him. I don't think him or Judy knew how much I was struggling that summer. So I always felt like they might have thought that I rejected the offer because I was homophobic. I've carried the shame of letting him down for twenty years.
Closet Survival Techniques
For most of my life, I didn't want to admit to anyone that I was transgender or pansexual. Most of the time I didn't even want to admit to myself that I was part of the LGBTQ community. I learned over the years to compartmentalize all that the community was doing into a safe spot in my mind. Whenever the word "Pride" came up, I would think of the shame I felt in letting Thanh down. It would allow me to quickly block myself from thinking about the fact that I belonged to the LGBTQ community. I did just belong to the LGBTQ community, I belonged at every Pride in every city I lived near. That being said, I can't beat myself up anymore over what should have been. I must think about what I should do and what should be.
2017 Pride Month
So this year will be my first Pride. I have decided that I will spend this month forgiving myself for letting Thanh and the community down in 1997. I know failing to give my support wasn't that big of a deal, but I used that shame for 20 years to run from myself. So I must forgive myself regardless of the nature of my transgression.
Going to Pride this year as myself, fully transitioned and completely out of the closet, is going to be amazing. I can't imagine what it must feel like to witness the Pride Parade while in the closet. I'm sure it inspires many to finally step out, but for those who can't or believe they can't, it must be painful. I'm feel blessed that I never had to know that pain, but I believe if I had known it I would have come out years ago.
So that's my story and feelings about Pride. It's probably not what you expected. Many of you are probably wondering how the creator of TRANZGENDR has never made it to a single Pride event until this year, but it's the truth. If you been reading my blog then you know that my journey to the event and myself was 40 years in the making. I'm trying, to be honest about my feelings and history when it comes to transitioning. I believe filling the pages of TRANZGENDR with self-serving lies, serves no one. My hope is that the members of our community who are still in the closet will see themselves in my truths and know that it's never too late to come out of the closet and make their mark on our community.