The AfterEllen.com Huddle: What makes us proud

What is Pride, really? What is it that we throw parades for each June? Pride is something different to everyone, so I had to know: What gives you pride?

Ali Davis: I’m proud to be bi because sometimes I feel like it’s a superpower. Admittedly it’s not the Wonder Woman kind, where you’re always awesome and never conflicted (Call me, Diana!), but more like the Hulk kind, where it messes with your life occasionally. But I feel like my difference is a useful difference.

As a writer and a performer, it opens my perspective. It helps to be able to see what’s attractive about everyone (OK, I still don’t get being attracted to jerks, but you get where I’m going.) and to know what it’s like to be in a relationship with more than just the one gender. The fact that I occasionally take flack from or get brushed aside even by gays and lesbians reminds me to listen to and make space for transfolk, and to look at where my own blind spots and unconscious prejudices might be. I’m far from perfect in that regard, but I feel like I at least have something that regularly nudges me to check myself. I screw up a lot, but I question a lot. Which makes me somewhere around halfway there, as always.

The fact that I don’t fit seamlessly into any one group in one area of my life (if you’re about to say that I’d fit seamlessly into a group of bisexuals, you’ve never been in a group of bisexuals) helps keep me on my toes in the other areas and makes it easier to challenge my own assumptions. The fluidity of my sexual orientation makes it easier to spot and work on other areas of my life where I’m unnecessarily locked down. If nothing else, it helps make me a tiny bit more likely to take a breath, stop worrying about which tidy specimen box I’m meant to fit into, and just do what I want and figure out how to label and store it later – if that even needs to happen at all.

My fellow bisexuals are frequently weirdos and sometimes difficult to get at first. I like that about them.

If I, by being out, am quietly demanding that other people think less rigidly, then that means I’m obligated to do the same, whether that’s about politics, pop music, or the fabric of the universe. My superpower is the power of maybes and gray areas, the Cloak of Moosh.

Plus I can really clean up at Spin the Bottle.

Lucy Hallowell: There are a lot of silly things that make me proud to be gay: never having to wade through the sea of douchebag frat boys to find a decent date, seeing the jealous look on the faces of the moms at playgroup when I tell them I have two kids but only had to be pregnant once, being able to share clothes with my wife.

But the thing that I really love about being gay is the sense of community. I am not good at making friends. I am awkward, shy, and introverted. In a large group all I want to do is curl up in a corner and pretend to be invisible. I always want to leave a party five minutes after we arrive just to avoid talking to new people. But secretly, in the depths of my heart, I crave a sense of belonging. My gay friends give me that feeling. We share a sense of humor and can spend hours busting on each other in a way that I can’t do with my straight friends. I love that when I meet new people who are gay it is often a little easier to get to a common ground and to find those shared jokes and experiences. I love that shorthand. I love the sense that we, as a larger community filled with people I will never know, are all in this boat together.

Oh I know it’s not perfect. We bicker and fight and tear at each other like any large family but that doesn’t destroy the things we have in common (it just makes some of us nicer to be around). So, in the midst of a world fraught with division and boundaries that keep us apart I am proud to be able to say “I’m gay and these are my people.”

Jil Guccini: I don’t know how to do this without being cheesy, so screw it, I’m just going to be cheesy. My lady Kathy gives me pride. She’s been my best friend for almost eight years, and she has literally shaped everything about the way my life is today, the places I’ve been, the things I’ve done, the way I’ve approached the world. She loves me harder than I thought it was possible to be loved. She is a permanent part of my bones. She makes me laugh, and it’s the things that make you laugh that you have to hold on to.

But really, I get pride from everyone I have ever loved, straight, gay, male, female — everyone. Gay Pride Month is about celebrating your life and who you are, and they have all given me life and helped me to become who I am. If you think I might be talking about you, I probably am. The love I’ve received and given already in this world is inconceivable. Love; it is always love.

Bridget McManus: My California wedding certificate makes me very proud. My wife and I were legally married in 2008 before Proposition 8 passed so we got in
under the wire and were able to get an official government document
acknowledging our marriage. We are still considered married by the
state of California even though the federal government does not
recognize our union. I believe in the next few years we will have
federal gay marriage and my wedding certificate reminds me the things
are progressing in the world. Soon every gay married couple will get
the same wedding certificate in the mail and they’ll frame it, hang it
on their bedroom wall and be proud just like I am.

Trish Bendix: It makes me proud when I talk to someone else who feels pride in their being gay. I don’t just mean they accept it — I mean they are happy, feel lucky, even, to be who they are. There are times when I interview people who aren’t interested in discussing their sexuality, and act like it’s something irrelevant to their lives. That’s their prerogative, of course. But when I speak with someone who is so openly excited about themselves and their partner or the community, it’s just such a proud moment for me. It’s like “We share this. We connect on this. It makes us awesome. I’m glad you feel the same way.” I think it’s that sort of feeling of pride as individuals that we need to move forward as a community.

Dara Nai: From the looks of what everyone chose, it’s clear that Pride is a pretty personal thing. When Ellen and Portia get a photo spread in PEOPLE magazine, it doesn’t make me proud, per se, I would file that under “That’s nice but more importantly, what’s for lunch?” I’m most proud of my girlfriend, Kristen. Not only is she ridiculously hot, whip smart, accomplished and sexy, she’s inexplicably really into me. I win!

Karman Kregloe: The PFLAG contingency is always guaranteed to bring a tear to my eye each year at my local Pride parade, and it reminds me of how lucky I am to have such a supportive family. I like to think that my fierce Southern Democrat mother, Gail, would be a five-star general if PFLAG ever decided to form an army. Even though she lives in a small town and is surrounded by lots of friends and family members who vote for candidates that actively campaign against equal rights for LGBTQ people, she is a staunch and vocal ally. She won’t let anyone get away with calling my wife my "friend" and if someone makes a snide comment about gay people or makes the big mistake of forwarding an anti-gay mass e-mail to her, she will (verbally) smite them great fury. I wish everyone could be as lucky as I am and have such a loving and loyal parent. She sure does make me proud!

Grace Chu: All of our straight allies who have supported the fight for marriage equality, i.e. the right to be just as stressed out and miserable as they are.

Heather Hogan: One the big gay things that filled me up with so much Pride was seeing the Hand aufs Herz fandom get born and grow into something remarkable and powerful. It was little-watched, soapy German drama with one of the sweetest, silliest, funnest lesbian storylines I’ve ever seen. And everybody wanted to watch it. So the fandom raised up teams of translators and recappers and video editors who literally invented ways to share the Jemma love. I one time saw in the comments of YouTube a person translating the German dialogue to Spanish so that someone else could translate it to Italian so that someone else could translate it to Portuguese. Just so a lesbian in Brazil could understand what Jenny and Emma were saying in a 90-second clip. The fandom even convinced the network to add every official Jemma clip to their website so the YouTube videos wouldn’t keep getting yanked down. I’d never seen anything like that fandom and it made my heart so proud.

Your turn! What or who gives you pride?

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