Loving Yourself During Pride Month: 4 Tips for Queer PoC 💜
If you hadn’t noticed, we are celebrating Pride Month 🌈! The rainbows are everywhere and I see colour in places that I didn’t expect to (see HERE – like seriously, wtf?). There is something to be said for unashamed visibility, and of course the joy of celebration! There is also something to be said about the consumerisation of Pride and how it can reinforce and shape a toxic ideal about what it means to be LGBTQ and what that looks like in order to be accepted.
Growing up gay and Indian meant that I didn’t relate to Pride in the way that others do. I saw the happiness and carnival like atmosphere (I even danced on a float for Amnesty UK non-stop for c. 3 hours), but it wasn’t a clear reflection of my identity. Let’s be real, Pride in London has looked and felt like an overwhelmingly white space (despite the city being 40% BAME). The pictures in the news when it’s reported on, to the snippets and shares on social media, Pride appears to me to celebrate a mainstream view of what it means to be LGBT; namely if you were a gay, white, conventionally good looking/sculpted, cisgender man – this was for you.
And the overall month shows the community in a way that tends to be increasingly heteronormative and portrays queerness in a way to be palatable, because it’s only then that queer people had (conditional) acceptance. I know that Pride in London is working hard to better reflect the diverse nature of London this year but Stonewall’s decision not to participate last year specifically because it was not inclusive enough for BAME communities says it all.
And if we need another data point about Pride, then let’s not forget how some sections of the community kicked off when the Manchester Pride unveiled their flag for 2019 which included a black and brown stripe to deliberately ensure visibility for people of colour. If our visibility on a flag could cause such a reaction, you naturally question how welcome are you in the community and what biases exist.
Too often we centre conversations like this on Whiteness and justifying our experiences to claim space/visibility, rather than focusing on ourselves as a queer community of colour and focusing on how we can celebrate, love ourselves and continue to build connection – not just at Pride but everyday.
I’ve stayed away from main(stream) Pride for the past few years and am (surprise!) going to attend UK Black Pride as they are unapologetic for the space they create for queer people of colour. And I can’t stress enough how wonderful it is to be in a space designed by and for people like me, with similar intersectional identities. Having been last year, it was just chill.
I say all this because Pride Month doesn’t automatically translate into feel-good vibes, and I know it’s not just me who feels this way. The vivid, visual depictions at this time of year celebrate a particular type of queerness which can be draining and alienating. So whilst not ground breaking, I share the things I keep close to my heart as a form of self-love at this time.
You are not a failure 💪
I felt like I would never ‘win’ at being gay. However, just because we don’t look like the mainstream view of what Pride celebrates, does not mean we have failed in some way. I refuse to be othered and understand that I’ve won in many different ways, simply by speaking up and reclaiming space. What’s actually failed us is the sexual racism that exists in the wider community and that not enough is being done to challenge it. What’s failed us is that some in our community fail to see that Pride (in its current form) is perpetuating a version of queerness that doesn’t reflect the diversity of our community and has lost its way from its primary purpose – to be a movement of liberation FOR US ALL.
Your story is just as beautiful but may be different ✨
I remember seeing beautiful white gay men, holding hands and kissing in the parade. Often surrounded by people who looked just like them. I’d see policemen proposing to other policemen (invariably white). I’m a sucker for love yet I couldn’t relate and couldn’t imagine that could ever be my story. I knew it would be different. During my first time marching in Pride, I wasn’t out to my family. To be so visible, yet still in the closet was a contradiction, yet I was desperate to build my confidence and was seeking strength in solidarity. That wasn’t quite my experience. My life may not pan out in the fairytale like way of a Tom Daly and Dustin Lance-Black, but I know my story has its own value and will continue to shape the person I am becoming.
Surround yourself with those who truly see you 👀
This sounds really obvious but speaks to the energy we surround ourselves with. This can be a loved one, your (chosen) family and friends. It’s about being in spaces that truly see you, where you can be authentic and show all of your identities in the company of people who value your presence. I’m become more reclusive from the scene during Pride month. At the time of writing, I’m going to the Mighty Hoopla but I have some dread (apart from seeing Samantha Mumba and dancing at the Hungama tent) and my hope is to see diversity in the crowd and that the event feels inclusive. Instead, during this time, I deliberately spend time with those that see me and where I feel free to be all of my selves.
Find spaces and connect with the community 🤝
Building on from the above; being in a city like London means there are PLENTY of opportunities to engage with the Queer PoC community. From talks and panels to takeovers and podcasts; there are so many ways to plug in and feel the love. I’m lucky that I get to do something like colourfull 🌈, as I get to speak to inspirational people from our community who have rich stories, who share their wisdom and all strive to lift us up. It has such a positive impact on me; I’m educated by listening to them, I’m inspired by their stories and I’m given hope by their desire to connect and be of service to others. It’s impossible to stay jaded about our future knowing that such brilliant people exist.
I’ve reframed my relationship to Pride and what it signifies for me. I know what to take from it and how to celebrate in my own way. I keep in mind the history of the actual movement and the role trans people of colour played. More importantly, I’ve learnt to take care of myself.
Take care of yourself too