By Dianne Miranda, June 23 2023—
A clear memory of the silhouette of a child hunched down with a pen and a tear-stained notepad in each hand, aggressively crossing off the words “her” and “girl”, and replacing them with “him” and “boy” in their love story of a poem lies hidden between the memories of my childhood. For many years, Pride month was a month of fingers being pointed at examples of what not to be and the disappointments to both the family and society, of those to avoid and not ever be in the presence of, and the harmful and the wrongs in humanity.
Despite my queerness being a mere fraction of the rich gravity of who I am — a single vector of my identity — when I was younger, the speculation of this being a reality became a major concern to my parents, close friends and even strangers. Growing up, I did not understand why it is so wrong to love the way I do. Was it not to love to simply be?
Society tries so hard to unweave the strands of my identity and single them out like they can exist separately and tries to completely ignore the intersectionalities between each strand. Without the interconnectedness of them, I am not whole.
In the small town in the Philippines I was raised in, where religion and generational gaps contributed greatly to these views, those who identified with and were part of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community were either accepted but with the conditions of being the laughing stock, the comedians, and whose lives were to be the entertainment of the town or be seen as the deviants, the fringes of society, and sinful whose lives needed transformation through faith and ceremonies to be rid of wrong. There must be care to not overgeneralize this as the Philippines remain relatively accepting of gender diversity despite the great mix of many challenges and progress within the country through the work of countless organizations and activists advocating for rights, greater visibility, and acceptance.
The theme of resistance, which is living, was not isolated and in fact, moves through time and travels thousands of kilometers — I came to realize this as I moved to a different country. It was in my junior high school social studies teacher’s classroom — behind the closed door, with my whimpers echoing in the empty room of the empty building and her voice repeatedly saying that I deserve to be loved for who I am — when I started to finally believe the fictional queer stories I read about or saw in movies or shows could be, a — my — reality.
Throughout my high school years, I began to read and learn more about those who have come before me, those who have loved, persevered, survived, and succeeded. Pride, to me then became a word synonymous with both celebration and social change/activism.
I read about those that have contributed to the fact of me now being able to write and tell my story, to have it published and read by others hoping to find solidarity in our pain, our existence, our love, and our growth. Marsha P. Johnson, Slyvia Rivera, and Stormé DeLarverie were some of the common names in the books I used to borrow from the public library and hide in my closet, in the gap between my bed, or in my school locker. Each story I listened to or read about provided me with the right tools and forces to break a single bar of social systems in the birdcage I seemed to be contained in.
The word Pride now not only brings about images of parades, festivals, and marches filled with laughter, but it also brings about feelings of gratitude, empowerment, resilience, and a need to partake in the important social change and activism happening around me. With my own growth in self-discovery, came the expansion of the word ‘pride’ and what it means to be prideful.
The summer of 2022 was the first year I became involved with Calgary Pride as a volunteer and where I had the opportunity to be a part of a community of amazing humans doing important work in their own ways. It was a defining moment where I truly felt myself — existing, but not having to fight to simply be or try to be anything else.
In a world that still tries to not only diminish our worth but also still continues to attempt to threaten and erase our very beings of queerness, I found in myself like many, a beacon of light to continue to foster a community that celebrates our diversity beyond the months of June and other months Pride is celebrated across the country.
Pride now permeates every aspect of my life naturally as a volunteer for the Campus Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity, incoming VP of Internal for Queers on Campus, and Jr. VP of Finance for Science Alliance.
Thus, to be prideful means to acknowledge that while much progress has been made, there still exist barriers and new ones continue to exist. There is still tremendous work to be done. There must be continuous active advocacy done in the framework of hope, celebration and collective resiliency, to pave a more inclusive future. Pride is a testimony of everything we have been through, what we are going through, and a promise to fight for a better future.
I now leave you with some more valuable resources and information to navigate Pride and beyond Pride. I’m glad you’re queer. I’m glad you’re here.
This article is a part of our Voices section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet editorial board.