Saturday, June 05, 2021

Realistic Pride

 So it's six days into Pride month.

And I'm angry. I'm angry at the fact that, try as I might, I just can't seem to let go. I saw a post on social media this morning from a fellow proudly displaying the rainbow flag and loudly sounding off about his 'allyship' with the LGBTQ+ community. Nice, right? Appropriate sentiment, right? On our side, hoo rah! 

But you see I knew him when. I knew him when he was comfortable with his heterosexual superiority. He proudly spouted about how two men couldn't actually love one another. He waxed poetic about being in love with his wife and told story after story about their fabled life. I always left any meeting with him like I'd walked through the sludge of trite, overblown, sentiment.

And said nothing.

Because as brainless and typical as he was, he had power. He had used that power. He had reported people, perfectly fine people, to their bosses and demanded their firing. I don't know how many notches he had in his toolbelt but there were many.

And along comes the wind of change

And he is determined to let his pride flag flap in the breeze.

Now he's a supporter.

Nowhere is there apology. Nowhere is there an acknowledgment that he was our enemy before he became our friend.

I wonder what is asked of me.


I can't muster it. I can muster anger though. Joe and I were a couple when it was still illegal to be gay in Canada. Our first acts of love were as criminals. When we sought out those of our kind, we went to clubs where it was never a certainty that you would make it home alive. 

There is a picture of the two of us from our early university years. We stand beside each other. No touch, we looked like cousins forced to take a picture together. We were afraid of pictures. We were afraid of evidence. We were afraid to draw breath too loudly. We were afraid that we took up too much space. We were afraid, so we locked the world out and lived in sanctuary.

This happens to me every year at pride. I remember too much. I remember too clearly. I grieve for our lost life, for our inability to face down fear, then, and inability to forgive, now.


I'm sorry I can't.


ABEhrhardt said...

I've been thinking about this all morning, because you're right, of course.

I can't forgive OR forget the casual and systemic sexism I experienced in grad school, and then professionally - and that was nothing like what you two had to endure, and what is STILL out there. Now I get some of it as a disabled person.

I ignore that past mostly, unless something in the present brings it roaring back, for my OWN sanity. That is my choice. It has costs, and doesn't include forgiveness for people who never apologized.

I'm thinking you've probably made the same decision, to be able to function, but Pride Month is a massive trigger.

You are a veteran with battle wounds. And no one can really understand who hasn't been there. Not even someone like me who claims to sort of get it. I'm glad you speak up.

Lili said...

I hear you. I have the same struggles with someone who persecuted me in high school in the 80s, then came out of the closet in college. I understand internalised homophobia, it's every bit as pervasive as internalised ableism. And I want to accept that he bullied me because he was afraid of who he was as well as of what others would think of him. I try to accept that he felt physically endangered as a closeted gay man and maybe believed I was slightly less endangered as an openly bi woman. But I have a hard time forgetting how he described the sort of sex he imagined that I engaged in and proclaimed me "repulsive", "disgusting", and "headed straight to hell," in front of all our friends. It's been nearly 40 years, I probably should not feel that he owes me an apology, but...I do.

Cheryl McDonnell said...

Your pain leaves livid marks across my heart!
I am so sorry for what you and so many others have endured over the decades because of who you love and who you are!
Please do not bother yourselves with forgiveness. This is what people tell us we must do to heal, but that is a falsehood, it is what the guilty want us to do to assuage their own conscience. Let them remain un-forgiven.
Your Pride has Integrity. Let it remain so.