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Celebrating Pride: The Work We Have To Do

Emily Perper | Longreads | June 26, 2016 | words

You will read about the queer and trans people in the American prison system. You will learn about their relationships, their mistreatment and some of their needs. You will read about the exclusive language of sex education and healthcare, particularly menstruation. You’ll read the stories of contemporary playwrights, musicians, political commentators and others as they reminisce about their first gay clubs. You’ll see that queer communal spaces can be inefficacious, yet remain so, so important.

Posted inFeatured, Nonfiction, Reading List

Celebrating Pride: The Work We Have To Do

There is much to do. But we are alive. We get to do the work.
Photo: Ted Eytan

“If anything happens to me tomorrow, I just want you to know that I love you.”

My partner pushed his headphones aside. He says, “I love you too. I don’t think anything will happen. You shouldn’t be worried.”

It’s Friday as I’m writing. Tomorrow, Saturday, is Frederick Pride. This Maryland city (my city, I live here) expects around 5,000 people to attend Pride festivities, which include an ecumenical church service, a  walk to commemorate victims of AIDS, and a day-long festival with food, activities for kids, drag queens performing, and local merchants offering discounts to anyone sporting a rainbow wristband. The weather will be perfect. Frederick Pride is one of my favorite days of the year. But I’m also a little scared. Last week, we held a vigil for the victims of the shooting at Pulse. I kept waiting for a bullet to enter the back of my skull. I hope I will be distracted enough tomorrow by my volunteer duties and my new flower crown to forget to worry about dying. I hope the kids who attend the local LGBTQ youth group and their families and the people attending Pride for the first time and my dad and my partner and my queer mentors and my coworkers will not feel afraid, either.  I plan my outfit, my potential tattoos, my deadlines for the next month. I tell myself, gently, Everything is going to be okay. 

When you read this on Sunday, you will read about the queer and trans people in the American prison system. You will learn about their relationships, their mistreatment and some of their needs. You will read about the exclusive language of sex education and healthcare, particularly menstruation. You’ll read the stories of contemporary playwrights, musicians, political commentators and others as they reminisce about their first gay clubs. You’ll see that queer communal spaces can be inefficacious, yet remain so, so important.

There is much to do. But we are alive. We get to do the work.

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