It’s time again for Pride, in both GLBT and leather flavors.
And this year, Pride is coming not a moment too soon for me. I have seen so much happening lately, nationally and internationally, that ranges from cringeworthy to infuriating to scary. The increasing partisan political divide. Powerful men engaging in sexual assault and harassment. A resurgence of forms of hate, bigotry, and intolerance that I thought had been banished. And that’s just for starters. I am not particularly proud to be living in a society that seems to be getting more and more dysfunctional and chaotic.
On the other hand, I look at things closer to home and I feel more hopeful. I look at the overlapping communities, GLBT and leather, to which I claim membership, and I’m proud of so many things.
I’m proud of both of these communities. I’m proud of the people who make up these communities. I’m proud of the values these communities embrace (and I wish these values were more widespread elsewhere). I’m proud of what these communities, and their members, are doing and accomplishing and becoming. And I’m proud to be a member of both of these communities.
I’m proud of the young people in these communities. I’m proud of their youthful energy, exuberance, and determination. These are the people who are inheriting the communities that my generation, and generations before me, have built, nurtured, and tended. The more I see, the more I think the communities we have built will be in very good hands—and the next generation will continue to build and improve these communities in ways I can’t even imagine.
I’m proud of the more experienced people in these communities—people of my generation who are still around. And I’m proud of the generations that have gone before. I’m proud of what has been built, and the progress and accomplishments both of these communities have made over the years.
I’m proud of our allies. We wouldn’t be where we are today without them.
I’m proud of the way both of these communities are evolving and diversifying. Members of minority groups of all kinds—including but not limited to matters of race, ethnicity, and gender—are increasingly making their voices heard and their presence and influence felt in these communities. And the communities are so much richer because of this.
Finally, I’m proud of Minnesota’s leather pride celebration and of Minnesota Leather Pride (MNLP), the organization that produces leather pride events in June and throughout the year. The theme of this year’s Minnesota Leather Pride celebration is “RESIST.” MNLP explains the theme by saying, “Resist boxes. Resist racists. Resist labels. Resist fascists. Resist erasure. Resist misogyny. Resist transphobia. Resist stereotypes. Resist the ‘should’. Resist the ‘supposed to’.”
The Stonewall rebellion on June 28, 1969—which is what we celebrate by observing Pride at the end of June—was also all about “Resist.” On that evening the police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City. But the crowd did not go quietly into the police wagons. Instead the crowd resisted, a riot ensued, and the world changed.
Next year, 2019, will be the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall rebelllion. We can be proud of how much has changed since then, and we can celebrate our accomplishments and our progress. But there still is more to do, and we also need to be vigilant and guard our progress and our accomplishments.
For information about this year’s Minnesota Leather Pride events, visit the Minnesota Leather Pride website (www.MNLeatherPride.org) or check out the Minnesota Leather Pride Facebook page. Be sure to visit the Minnesota Leather Pride booth at the Pride Festival in Loring Park on Saturday and Sunday, June 23 and 24. And help carry the giant leather pride flag in the Ashley Rukes Pride Parade on Sunday.
(By the way—June would be an excellent month to read, or re-read, Land of 10,000 Loves: A History of Queer Minnesota by Stewart Van Cleve.)