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What Pride 2024 Taught Me About Myself

What Pride 2024 Taught Me About Myself

Another year, another Pride season on the books. Whether I like it or not, Pride 2024 has taught me a lot about myself and where I do and don’t fit in, when it comes to queer community. The current political climate makes Pride all the more important, but also, all the more challenging. Now that it’s over, I find myself looking back and reflecting on what I’ve learned about myself this year and how I feel about Pride, representation, and existing as a bisexual woman.

If, like me, you’re bisexual, you may be feeling the frustration and anger surrounding the continued misunderstanding of our orientation. I wish I was surprised that some people still don’t accept or acknowledge bisexuality. Generally speaking, I have very low expectations when it comes to being bi, both from straight and queer people alike. I am forever enraged by their illogical straw man arguments and bold-as-brass bi erasure. Why are they so adamantly committed to denying bisexuality, regardless of how silly they sound? For me, it’s one thing when straight people say stupid shit like this, and it’s something entirely different when other queer people do it. It’s confusing, it’s hurtful, and it’s so counterproductive. I will simply never understand a queer person who, presumably, has been ostracized throughout their life for their queerness, turning their back on certain flavors of queer folks and rejecting them. The sheer lack of empathy is astounding to me, and in some cases has made me feel so frustrated that I was ashamed to be associated and aligned with the queer community.

And then there’s the lesbians. If I hear the word “comp-het” come out of another lesbian’s mouth as a way to rip apart bisexuality and minimize bisexual women for having relationships with men, I will literally scream. What really bugs me about the anti-bi lesbian discourse this year is that not only does it feel like a betrayal, woman to woman, it reeks of internalized misogyny and the same kind of cruel gatekeeping that has no doubt  hurt and harmed lesbian women outside of queer spaces. Gay women telling bisexual women that they’re bisexuality is just a phase or a silly little stepping stone towards lesbianism is the kind of rhetoric that makes my blood boil. I have had to work very hard, not always successfully, to not allow this pervasive anti-bisexual attitude color all of my feelings about lesbians as a whole. I don’t want to lump every lesbian into the bi-hating, man-hating, self-righteous bitch category that so many of them seem to fall into, but it’s not easy. Lesbians rejecting the experience and validity of bisexuality, simply because they can’t relate to it, makes them no better than the cishet men who torment and exclude gay women. How dare they look at bisexual women and decide, with self-imposed impunity, that we don’t know our own feelings, understand our own attraction, or that we’re just temporarily confused. It’s one of the single worst takes I’ve ever seen come out of the LGBTQIA+ community. It makes me never want to date or seek any closeness or companionship from lesbians again. I was raised adjacent to a very strong lesbian community and I’ve always held them in high regard.  But after the bullshit of Pride 2024 and the obnoxious bi-erasure, I can no longer say that. 

It was a  month of big feelings and anger management, to say the least, but here’s what Pride 2024 taught me about myself:  I am not an activist.  If you follow me on social media or you have read my blog for awhile, that might seem confusing because I tend to get a bit wound up when things are unreasonable or unfair, and I’m almost always ready to jump in and fight the good fight for those who can’t fight, themselves. Pride 2024 has taught me that while I can be emotionally moved to action, and my strong sense of justice doesn’t ever seem to take a day off, when it comes to the actual nuts and bolts of activism, it is not for me. I believe in activism, I support activism, and I admire activism, but it’s not something that I can actually do. Part of the reason that it’s simply not for me, is that I never seem to be aligned with the attitudes of the people who are quick to call themselves activists.

Case in point: I was recently privy to some conversations behind closed doors with some very politically active people in the queer community at large. I looked at the opportunity as one for learning and listening, hoping to glean lots of insight and ideas from my peers. What I observed instead was a lot of aggressive and passive aggressive holier-than-thou-energy, and a shocking amount of tone policing. I found it horrifying when this group of ‘community thought leaders’, all of them intelligent, informed, and articulate people, splintered into smaller fractions of rude, mean, self-righteous mouthpieces. They spoke freely and openly about how those who didn’t approach the world the way they did were out of touch, uninformed, and ridiculous. At one point someone shared an email they had received from a follower/reader expressing their dismay at how politically charged their work had become. It would have been an easy email to ignore, but instead, it was laid before the court of public opinion within the chat and dissected. While it may have been an unexpected piece of feedback, even useless feedback, they still saw fit to share it with the group and openly, unapologetically rip both the feedback and the person who sent it, to absolute shreds, simply for disagreeing and stating their position on the politics in question. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s gross. Not only was the dog-piling inappropriate in general, it actively took everyone off task and was a huge waste of time. As the saying goes, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” 

That experience really forced me to step back and examine my ability to be involved with frontline activism. I happen to believe that there are almost as many ways to contribute as there are people wanting to make contributions, so there should be a job that fits almost everyone. Not everyone is made for marching in the streets and carrying signs, just like not everyone is made for stuffing 10,000 envelopes and other tiresome behind-the-scenes work that is required with social change. It’s okay to not be able to do it all and it’s okay to not want to do it all. But what isn’t okay, in my humble opinion, is presenting yourself as someone who is intensely principled and moral,  yet undermines and mocks those who don’t share their self-righteous beliefs. It was a really shitty experience and it cast a lot of light on why I’ve always felt so uncomfortable in politically charged spaces with militantly political people. I had to closely examine how this particular experience affected me and my sense of purpose with the sex-positive work that I’m doing. It highlighted for me, with great clarity, that while the things I discuss and the topics I work with are politically charged, and that facet of this work is inescapable, I’m also much more interested in individuals and their experiences and impressions, than I am fighting the big systemic issues of hegemony. If nothing else, that one awkward and unpleasant experience really made me see that it’s essential to stay in the know about what is and isn’t working in our society and culture, but that working towards change from a place of anger and fear, is exhausting and can be counterproductive. 

Activism and advocacy is exhausting by its very nature; it is a constant uphill battle, but we still get to choose the fuel that pushes us forward and keeps us engaged in the causes we deem important. Pride 2024 was a wake-up call for me and problems that the queer Community faces, many of which would not be changing or improving without the vigilance of the frontline activists. We will always need the people who will chain themselves to old growth trees, and fight so tenaciously that they make the riot squad wish they’d called in sick that day. But we can’t all be that person, and that doesn’t mean that what we’re doing isn’t important. Being loud and being angry simply isn’t enough. We need to be smart, we need to be sensitive, and we need to be compassionate and inclusive of everyone who is on our side, and hold space for those who haven’t yet changed their minds.

Pride 2024 was an exercise in frustration, and enlightenment.  I don’t want to do this work through a lens of anger, scarcity, or revenge. I want to do this work because I’m a bisexual, sex positive, kinky, polyamorous woman who cares about people living their best lives, finding authenticity, and contributing towards a future that they believe in. No matter how unjust the world or how frustrating the community, Pride 2024 has taught me that at the end of the day we all need to look ourselves in the mirror and respect the person looking back at us. For me, that means working harder at keeping an open mind, taking other people at face value, and honoring my own limitations. That includes who I work with and how that work is done.

Incidentally, all of these thoughts and feelings from Pride 2024 have brought me to a new place in the work that I’m doing, and I will be making some significant changes in the not so distant future! So as frustrating and difficult as June was, I’m grateful for the perspective because it has given me a lot to think about and encouraged me to take stock of who and what I am and how I want to move forward in the work that I’m doing. In that sense, it was a very successful Pride 2024; it’s just too bad that not everyone can find compassion and acceptance for those who are not just like them. 

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