PHOTOGRAPHY COLIN MATSUI @colinmatsui
INTERVIEWS BECK DIAZ @hypebeck / JESPER GUDBERGSEN @yessirjesper
SPECIAL THANKS TO @phile_magazine and @pubicaccess.tv
While the month of June does serve as an important reminder of how far the LGBTQ+ community has evolved, 2021 is yet another complicated year to be celebrating the “joy of queer liberation”. Pride month festivities are tainted by too many injustices against people across the spectrum to feel completely blissful. What’s especially pressing this year is the record amount of anti-trans bills that are being introduced all over the US, and the number of trans and gender non-comforming people who have been killed in the first 5 months of the year is almost as high as for all of last year – an already record-setting one. And once again, the majority of these people were Black and Latinx womxn. So why do we celebrate, what do we remember, where do we look towards? At the closing “funeral” celebration of the epic kink mag Phile Magazine, The International Journal of Desire & Curiosity, Submission Beauty spent an evening decidedly far away from any corporate sponsorships, pink-washed billboards and rainbow branded beverages, to ask a few friends:
“What does Pride mean to you ?”
To me, Pride is about celebrating having done enough to survive another day and showing up and showing out with that victory. A lot of people didn’t make it. I’m 37 years old and I’ve seen firsthand how a lot of queer folks don’t even make it past 30, so I think having pride in yourself, your accomplishments, and being proud of the fact that you woke up this morning is a fucking radical thing to do. Making it, living and thriving, because it’s hard.
I have only participated in Pride two times, both by happenstance. This is partially because I hate crowds and parades but also because I have never felt a connection to mainstream gay culture. I understand the importance of Pride for visibility and acceptance of LGBT+ people and rights but I think it has compromised the true, raw nature of many Queer people.
In many ways I see Pride as a censored portrayal of alternative sexualities, one made for a Hetero-normative society to digest (ie: banning Kink at Pride). To me Pride is about resisting norms and celebrating radical existence.
At Pride a few years back, my friend performed in drag for the first time, and it was a really touching moment for me and our friends. That was the first time I truly felt proud to be gay. I feel proud all year round now, but there’s something about having a dedicated moment to appreciate it. To me, Pride is about connecting with my friends and really taking the time to understand everyone’s story of their queerness. This time of the year is about connecting with my queer community and it gives us a time to explore and undertstand how deep it is to be proud of being queer, whatever that means to you
TIMOTHY S @timmyisntfun
Gilbert Baker made the very first Pride flag which represented sexuality, life, healing, sunlight, nature, magic/art, serenity and spirit. Every year, the vastly diverse queer community can unite in celebration all while being our most authentic selves. Pride for me is channeling the energy of our elders who fought for our right to be as fabulous as humanly possible and doing so no matter what month it is.
Pride to me is the celebration of queer love and queer identities, as well as celebrating and remembering the past voices who paved the way for what the LGBTQ+ community has become today. I definitely feel a stronger connection to the people around me and within the community during Pride month.That being said, I think being proud of your sexuality and gender identity is a perogative that any LGBTQ+ person should embrace year round, share with the world and express in whichever way they wish.
TIMOTHY W @timothylwestbrook
In all of my flamboyancy and self expression, I am not proud. I do not feel a sense of community with queer people, the word gay makes me cringe because I think of assimilation, heteronormativity, repression, misogyny, and transphobia. Pride has always been a party where I hope to get fucked or at least hit on and am constantly finding myself rejected because I do not have the trendy appearance of being an otter-adjacent faggot. I am mostly naturally hairless and my facial hair doesn’t really grow in evenly. So I look more “feminine” or androgynous but not by choice. I have a lot of self esteem issues and body dysmorphia. I marched in the parade in 2017, 2018, and 2019. I have revolted against the corporate takeover of pride and sat in utter confusion of how we learn about oppression in school. Our education is straight-washed and white-washed. We have no sense of reality and are spat out with no concept of who we are or what society was actually founded on. We read Frankenstein in high school but are kept totally blind to how radical Mary Shelley’s family was. The queer community has notoriously been single-minded and severely lacking in intersectionalism. It is ableist, no regard for the environment, often racist, misogynist, and exclusionary. For so long, until last summer, I have fancied myself an environmentalist but not a humanitarian. “If there is no world for us to live in, whatever rights we’ve fought for and won don’t really matter”. 2020 was the first year I felt something even remotely like a “real pride.” There may have been a spark of it years before, when I turned 21 and experienced my first hate crime on my own body. I was attacked but I beat the shit out of the person attacking me. I am all of 5’7” and 150 pounds. She’s scrappy.
I do not know what pride is.
To me, Pride means that I can stop worrying about what everyone is asking of me and just be what I am. I love that.
To me, Pride is not only a celebration of inclusivity and expression but a consistent practice of carving out space for queer and marginalized bodies. It acts as a reminder that our work for human rights is not over but in it’s essence lies a true joy in knowing that the queer spaces we have are a result of collective persistence and exultation.