When we think of Pride, we often picture rainbow flags and glitter abound. We picture an extravagant parade and explosions of color on every float. We picture everyone gathered downtown, or at Seattle Center, or at the bars, dressed in our best campy, glitzy, glamorous attire, and unified in our desire to love, in our vision of a better world. But we also think of history and protests. We think of the people who have paved the way for us to shout out and celebrate as loudly as we do—their decades-long struggle to be accepted for who they were.
I am reminded of this article written by John Paul Brammer on the first anniversary of the Pulse shooting. He writes that queer joy is inextricably tied to queer grief, that queer people carry the ghosts of those past, these ghosts that propel us into a healed future. But he also writes that grief is “not always a candlelit vigil, or a protest march, though it can be. Grief can be neon, can be a ball, can be camp, can be a read, or can be a parade. It can be as joyful as it is sad.”
So, this month, and every month, we celebrate the people who live their lives fully and truly in spite of a society that works to silence them, in spite of how difficult it can be at times to do so. We celebrate the people who came before us, the ones who sacrificed their lives and their safety to cultivate a better world. We celebrate the pain turned to pride, the unapologetic love and laughter taken to the streets, out on the dance floor, into every aspect of our lives. And we celebrate those who are still figuring it out.
On a recent Monday, I attended Janelle Monae’s concert for her Dirty Computer tour. According to a profile featured in the New York Times, her new album, Dirty Computer, is “a homage to women and the spectrum of sexual identities,” with the songs grouped into “three loose categories”: Reckoning, Celebration, and Reclamation. Throughout the show, she emphasized the importance of love and dedicated each of her songs to the people who are pushed to the margins—this album being her attempts to bring them back in, to carve out a space for them to exist, to create a more inclusive and loving world.
“This is to everyone weird,” she said. The LED screens behind her panned to members of the audience: people dancing without care, laughing loudly, embracing each other. And then she sang, “I don’t care what I look like but I feel good / Better than amazing, and better than I could.”
I went home that night and relived the experience of the concert, surrounded by people from different backgrounds, all of us coming together to enjoy someone’s art. All of us very moved by such a simple yet profound message: That we were loved, that we were seen. We all felt it.
Now it’s time to take that love and spread it all around.