Y’all, I’m tired.
No. Not just tired. I’m exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally. And it’s all Pride’s fault.
Let’s start with the physical part. I’ve never been a physical person. I mean, yeah, I spent my fair share of days choreographing full dance sequences on my parent’s front porch. Some days, when the neighborhood boys refused to let me join their football game, P!nk’s Missundaztood blasted in from my dad’s four-foot speakers as I swayed across the wooden, wrap-around porch singing, “Get this party started on a Saturday night. Everybody’s waiting for me to arrive. Sending out the message to all of my friends. We’ll be looking flashy in my Mercedes Benz.” It was a grand illusion that saved me from the harsh realities of adolescent isolation—a common trait among us queers.
This year for Pride, I spent two days helping my small team of coworkers stuff 5,000 bags to give away during the Pride parade. I attended more than a dozen queer events across the city. I walked from queer bar to queer bar in hopes of saving money. I walked my summer interns around the park. And, most importantly, I danced with my tribe.
There is no greater feeling than being on any dance floor surrounded by those queers that single-handedly choreographed their own moves to “Get The Party Started.”
As sore as my thighs are from bobbing on the dance floor, as much as my liver is aching from the sheer amount of cheap beer I consumed, as much as I want to climb into bed for the next month, my queer pride exists beyond the month of June, and more work is to be done.
Mentally, I haven’t had a break. For the past year and half, I’ve been juggling many different jobs at my tiny little cubicle. I don’t mean to brag, but I’m pretty good at adapting.
When I was in the third grade, I climbed into a beaten, broken, and un-air conditioned church bus in the middle of July. My bags were filled with denim pants, button-up shirts, and a Dollar General Bible my mom bought for me the day before she shipped me off to a free babysitter—an Apostolic Pentecostal church camp in the middle of Ohio. For a week, I sat through, and occasionally shouted “amen,” at congregations that demonized me. I ate horrible biscuits and gravy with a smile on my face. I listened to “Genie In a Bottle” at the lowest possible volume on my CD walkman. For a week, I was an overly conservative, Bible-thumping, radical—with one high-pitched, gay-as-f*ck voice.
This wasn’t the first or last time I’ve had to adapt in enviroments to survive. I am thankful that now I’m challenged with figuring out HTML codes for our website, rather than masking my queerness. I’ll take that trade anyday.
Emotionally, I’m more confused than exhausted. But, those two aren’t mutually exclusive.
On June 8, four days after the Supreme Court ruled on the Masterpiece Cakeshop Case, less than a dozen queers, mostly our youth, gathered in the parking lot outside of the Lakewood’s little cake shop ready to throw a dance party. The Facebook event boasted more than one thousand people were interested.What we were greeted with was something much different—more than 50 gun-toting, American flag waving, Duck Dynasty-looking men and their families. They surrounded us, bombarding us with confrontation, free water, and cupcakes from Masterpiece Cakeshop.
“Don’t drink the Kool-Aid!” one queer yelled into a megaphone.
We didn’t get to dance in the parking lot, as police officers chauffeured us off of the premises while the the cake shop supporters sang the national anthem. We walked out with our heads held high, even though our hearts were dragging the ground.
This was only the first of many times that I saw a lack of support and community within the Denver LGBTQ scene this Pride. Yet, the bars were filled with lines stretching down the block. Wherever a party was taking place, the people flocked to it. But that same supportive community refused to show up to events like the protest dance party, or the annual Dyke March.
Make no mistake, Pride is a celebration. But it is also a time for us to come together, show the world that we stand in solidarity, and we are a force to be reckoned with. We are more than good dancers and great fashion icons. We are greater than the way that Denver’s queers celebrated Pride this year.
I may be tired, but my Pride is stronger than physical pain, smarter than mental fatigue, and more powerful than emotional exhaustion. I will continue my part in progressing queers to full equality and equity.
To me, every month is Pride month, and I’m stronger because of it.