Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

When Pride is Said and Done: Teen Contributor Elliott Shares Their Post Pride Thoughts

It’s been a couple of months because Teen Contributor Elliott was busy graduating from high school, but today Elliott is back to share their post-pride thoughts.

Trigger Warning: Suicide, abuse

As Pride Month comes to an end, many people are hit with the realization that although they have a month where they can feel free and openly themselves, the world is still not a perfect place. Even just one day after pride month, corporations stop showing their support, harassment and attacks against the LGBT+ community continue to happen, and people are forced back into silence. I want to take this opportunity to shed light on some hardships AND prosperity in the LGBT+ community that often go overlooked.

Being in the closet during Pride Month can be extremely frustrating for some people who dream of being open about who they are. But for others, being in the closet can be the safest, yet most dangerous situation at the same time. Someone’s environment may not make it safe for them to come out for fear of abuse, abandonment, or death, but the closet can also be a prison that denies someone access to try to figure out their identity. This can make the person confused and insecure about whether or not they are truly part of the LGBT+ community. While I would never suggest for someone to force themselves out of the closet in the hopes of figuring themselves out, the situation they are in could be compared to being trapped on a bus in a zombie apocalypse. While that person is safe from the hoards of zombies outside, they are starving, confused, and left alone on the bus and either way death is imminent. So their options are to starve on the bus- be confused and drowning in self hatred in the closet, or risk it with the zombies in the hopes to find other survivors- come out of the closet and find other members of the LGBT+ community who can help them figure out their identity and help them live their life. There is also a third, and overlooked option- stay in the bus and wait for the zombies to leave and then learn to survive on your own. In other words, stay in the closet until you feel safe and instead of getting help, figure out your identity by yourself. All three of these options are completely valid; however, they often go overlooked because they don’t project the happy point of view that society likes to display.

The LGBT+ community may literally be full of rainbows, but it isn’t always the most happy, rainbow-filled community. Often times coming out to others and being part of the LGBT+ community can be dangerous, not because of homophobic people outside of the community, but because of gatekeepers who identify as LGBT+ themselves. A bisexual woman is accused of not being “bisexual enough” by a lesbian because she’s in a relationship with a man; a trans male is accused of not being “trans enough” by a gay man because he happens to like wearing makeup (despite the fact that the gay man wears makeup himself and is sternly asserts that he is indeed a male); an asexual nonbinary individual is accused of not being nonbinary by other trans folk because they’re too feminine and they can’t be asexual because they’ve kissed somebody. All of these stories are true stories and I would know because they’re stories from people I know…and the last story is mine. Gatekeeping in the LGBT+ community is so incredibly toxic. Dealing with homophobia and transphobia from cishet people is already difficult enough, but to face the same discrimination within the community can make it feel like there is no safe place. I know that for me, it made me question my identity and made me hate what I identified as for the longest time. The LGBT+ community should be just that, a community. A community where we are here to lift each other up and help fight against the oppression that all of us face instead of adding more fire to the flame. But right now, that’s simply not the reality.

I know I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the hidden darkness of the LGBT+ community. However, there are good things in the community that often go overlooked as well and I want to spend just as much time bringing those truths to light.

One of the most common coming out stories that I hear often goes unnoticed because there’s no drama or extreme message behind it. Someone who hasn’t had many struggles with their identity tells their parents casually in a normal conversation that they’re LGBT+ and their parent is simply okay with it. Nothing grand, nothing drastic, nothing dangerous- just stating a fact and the fact being accepted. I just want to say that there’s nothing wrong with this story! This story is just as beautiful and just as powerful as someone with a tragic backstory or a less than ideal coming out story. Sharing such an intimate part of yourself with the world is such a beautiful, powerful thing to do, even if there were no obstacles of hardships in the way.

Pride Month is beautiful and the fact that there is a month where LGBT+ identities, struggles, and victories are brought to light, this month is also a call-to-action. The community still faces hardships left and right. Identities and stories are still being hidden. And, although pride month is over, LGBT+ pride should never end. The steps we are taking to make the world a better place should not stop after June. Pride is forever and our fight is not over.

Book Review: Pride: Celebrating Diversity & Community by Robin Stevenson

Publisher’s description

PRIDEFor LGBTQ people and their supporters, Pride events are an opportunity to honor the past, protest injustice, and celebrate a diverse and vibrant community. The high point of Pride, the Pride Parade, is spectacular and colorful. But there is a whole lot more to Pride than rainbow flags and amazing outfits. How did Pride come to be? And what does Pride mean to the people who celebrate it?

 

 

 

Amanda’s thoughts

First of all, let’s talk age groups. This is a great primer for kids ages 9-12. I plan to pass it along to my 4th grade son, whose favorite book is GEORGE by Alex Gino. Teens will certainly learn a lot from this book (as would adults looking for a quick crash course in LGBTQ issues), but I’d say its intended audience is more the middle school set.

 

This is a visually appealing, quick, and thorough look at Pride parades and celebrations, how they came to be, and what they celebrate. Stevenson covers large pieces of history and movements in accessible ways, often throwing in her own personal stories, which lend themselves to a conversational tone. The pages are covered in large, vibrant, fantastic pictures from celebrations, parades, and marches from all over the world. Pull-out quotes, smaller pictures on the sides, and text boxes with Queer Facts adorn the pages, providing extra information and helping break up the longer sections of information.

 

Stevenson looks at the history of discrimination, abuse, laws, resistance, fighting back, organizations (like The Mattachine Society and Daughters of Bilitis), demonstrations for basic civil rights, and the Lavender Scare of the 50s and 60s. She highlights activists, looks at changing policy and attitudes, covers the Stonewall Riot, and looks at the new groups, rallies, and marches that grew from that. She also often notes the sexism, racism, and classism within the movement and the additional discrimination and struggle many groups faced. She examines the roles of youths in various movements and looks at high school-based activism. Other chapters look at the rise of Queer Nation, marriage equality, PFLAG, community and subgroups within the community, coming out, acronyms, and pronouns. Short sections detail stories of teens coming out, trans kid, and LGBTQ families. As the title promises, Stevenson looks at Pride parades, the politics of Pride, intersectional activism and considerations, and symbols commonly seen at Pride. She includes sections here on drag queens and kings, dyke marches, trans marches, and alternative pride marches. Finally, she looks at rights, activism, and pride all around the world, covering many countries. A glossary, resources, and an index round out this title.

 

As you can see, Stevenson covers a lot of ground in this book. She gives just enough information to explain the significance of an event or idea without bogging young readers down with too much information. Is there a lot more to say about every single subject covered here? Of course. But this book is an excellent resource for the younger set. It gives a quick but thorough look at LGBTQ history (mainly in North America) from the 1950s on and really does focus on the activism, community, and celebration of not just Pride but the LGBTQ movement as a whole. This book is an excellent and necessary addition for all collections. Buy Stevenson’s book and pair it with Gay & Lesbian History for Kids by Jerome Pohlen, which is great for the 12 and up crew. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the author and publisher

ISBN-13: 9781459809932

Publisher: Orca Book Publishers

Publication date: 04/19/2016