PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

Ramon Te Wake

Our annual celebration of all things LGBTIQ+ is here! Ramon Te Wake examines the power of words, kind and otherwise, during Pride.

With Pride set to burst around the corner like a heatwave on heat, it’s energy presents a polarizing time for the LGBTIQ+ communities. Just as the acronym is ever-evolving so is the seeming divide between the letters.

So much so that it’s hit the ‘best of summer list’ as the most talked-about cocktail. The ingredients are individual and complex and include … a pinch of disappointment, a dash of rolling eyes … a delicious splash of, ‘why do you choose to silence my activism?’ Add in a healthy pour of ‘but we’re a community, aren’t we?’ coat the rim of the glass with genuine celebration and finally, and perhaps the most important of all ingredients … a sprinkle of self-love and expression. The cherry. The champion.

The thing is, it doesn’t really matter how you drink the cocktail. Or what ingredients you like or use. Whether you stir it, shake it, sip it or scull it. It is yours to swallow (or spit) however you choose. Nobody put baby in the corner (they tried that and it backfired) and nobody should tell anybody else how to drink their god damn cocktail.

Pride is yours to assert, in whatever way that feels correct to you. Not how others tell you it should be. That is misguided and wasteful. If you want to celebrate your self-affirmation, your movement or community, then revel. If you want to activate your activism because your fight is present and real, then protest. Embrace your version of Pride. But, be mindful to let others do the same.

Even though we lay our bones down differently we have things that connect us. Pain. Struggle. Love. Acceptance. These words carry tremendous weight for all of us and require the attention of our blood and guts. They should never be underestimated yet they’re often overshadowed. But that’s the power of words when fired they very rarely miss the mark.

When I was growing up, words, taunted my existence. Even ‘the bash’ paled in comparison to the way words annihilated my worth. But it wasn’t just the word it was the intent behind them that cut deep and lingered under my skin well after they were flung.

The usual suspects were used, faggot, queer, poof, sissy, unoriginal for sure, but potent. Thrown by amateur word slingers who cared very little about how they carried and how they arrived. How they hurt. Yes, they hurt. For a long time, they burdened me, until my relationship with words changed until my relationship with myself changed. It’s funny, cause the word slingers thought they had all the control in this game but they were just wounded pawns trying to hide the fact. Eventually, I figured this out and I also figured out that words only had power if I gave them power.

In a lot of ways, Pride is about understanding your own power. How we got it, is what connects us. But it’s how we use it that really matters. Every time you walk with that knowing there is someone behind you watching. Learning. Needing. Every time you use your words, with intent, someone is listening. Affected. Loaded. Awakened. How you use your actions, towards yourself or others, to those we love or like very little, to those who contradict your strut, it all matters. In the end, it’s better to share your power with care than to share at all.

Photo | Melissa Nicole Nickerson.