Queers. Hey. Come here. Pull up a chair. Please take a golf pencil and an index card. We all need to talk.
We find ourselves in uncertain times. A whole generation of urban queers who came up in a world of “Glee” and gay-straight alliances in their high schools is learning that there are worse existential threats to queerness than the Westboro Baptist Church. A generation of queers who thought they could run away to the big city to escape hate is learning just how generalized hate has become.
We assumed that progress was the inevitable endpoint of society. We breathed out. We forgot our history. We took comfort in small victories in representation. We believed in Ellen DeGeneres and two grooms on wedding cakes, in Day of Silence, in the Democratic Party and the Human Rights Campaign.
We got insular and complacent, and now we find ourselves very young and very lost and very afraid.
Here are my Pride resolutions. You go ahead and write some of your own. If I’m going to be proud this June, I need us, as a community, to do better.
- Don’t treat your identity like a shield.
Yes, you are queer. This does not mean that you speak for everyone, that you’re immune from racism, sexism and classism, or that you understand what it’s like to be part of other marginalized communities you don’t belong to.
It also does not give you the free reign to use your identity and your education and the language of identity politics activism to leverage your own personal power within your community. If you’re going to be an asshole, go ahead, but don’t use your identity to justify it.
- Don’t take shit, don’t give an inch.
Fuck Caitlyn Jenner. Fuck Peter Thiel. Fuck compromise and collaborators. If you helped this current regime take power, or you maintain its power now, you’re not gay anymore. Sorry. I don’t make the rules.
- Clean your house.
Is there a rapist in your scene? A general scumbag? A handful of racists? Put a brick in your purse and get them the hell out. What happened to PWR BTTM should be a model for how communities respond to awful people. Don’t stand around waiting for permission. Take out the fucking trash.
- Watch what people are doing in your name.
Ivanka Trump is not my friend and she shouldn’t be yours either. Conservatives are only throwing us the slightest bones because rich white gays can be mobilized by Islamophobia and class anxiety.
The tragedy at Pulse unfolded in the early morning hours of June 12, 2016. By June 19, Milo Yiannopoulos was selling “WE. SHOOT. BACK.” tank tops with rainbow guns on them.
- Don’t trust anybody but us to keep us safe.
Queer love didn’t become legitimate when same-sex marriage was legalized. Queer lives didn’t become valuable when hate crime legislation hit the books. Queer health didn’t become essential when the Affordable Care Act was passed.
If you measure your existence by what the government can or will guarantee, your existence can be swept right out from under you. I’ll be non-binary whether they let me put that on my driver’s license or not. I’ll be trans with or without the ACA. I’ll be gay as hell with or without marriage.
- Get braver.
Talk politics with your coworkers. Confront your racist professor. Wear lipstick. Cut your hair. Film cops. Wear a dress. Buy a Taser. Stop taking shit from your family. Open up to your friends. Hold your partner’s hand. Take the bus in drag. Get real fucked up at Pride and start an occupation.
Straight people riot when their sports teams win. Why should we settle for parades?
Neil Lawrence is a third year at UC Berkeley studying linguistics. He is a former columnist at The Daily Californian.
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