For 22-year-old Em Panetta (who is non-binary and pronounces the pronunciation “they”), this June would mark the consequences: their first Pride.
“Last year, starting last summer, was pretty big for me, so this summer was supposed to be a really celebratory time for me – a time to travel to New York City (from the Philadelphia area) and be out of my community, instead of sitting next to hi like i’ve been doing this for the last few years, “Panetta told CNN.
Panetta continued, “Since Pride’s ceremonial pride has been undone, there has been a bit of a sad process. It’s hardly hard to know that you’ve almost had this special experience.”
“Pride offers me the opportunity to be my true self and get rid of worries about whether they will look at me in a certain way or I will have to respond to comments or harassment,” Johnstone said. “My first pride was in Spartanburg, after I came out as a trance. So for me, it’s an event rooted in authenticity.”
“It’s not that summer,” Johnstone added, “it feels like I’m missing a big part of the year – the excitement of preparing and figuring out what I’m going to wear and getting to know people. I miss the sadness of it all.”
Missed political opportunity
As Leslie sees it, all that can be taken away from you is political: “The core of Pride is the idea that things are not taken for granted.”
Significantly, the pandemic forced another conversation on how to improve Pride observation.
“We need something new to address the work, environmental, anti-racist and economic challenges of LGBTQ people,” Thrasher said.
Over the decades, Pride’s critiques – of leaning only on a narrow range of LGBTQ experiences, of being crowded with police officers – have inspired alternative celebrations.
Mitchum added, “Nothing good will come of a deadly pandemic that could have been prevented. At the same time, people have the opportunity to rethink exactly what they need from their community – and for themselves. They have the opportunity to dream differently.”
Yet, being queer also means getting to know what can come after that loss: kinship and connection that can transcend almost anything.