It has been a rough couple of years for the community.
While we're used to taking a few lumps, a few solid hits on the chin, I can't deny that life has gotten harder for the LGBTQ+ folks around the world.
There have been anti-trans laws passed in mass throughout the United States, and while the Democratic party is trying to combat the messaging to some degree, they haven't been able to curb the enthusiasm of Republicans spreading hate.
Across the Southern States, we've seen fearmongering to a degree that even I find staggering. Demonizing drag performers, nonsensical and homophobic accusations of pedophilia and grooming, even Bible verses in anti-trans bathroom bills.
Some of the same lawmakers vote against ending child marriage, removing protections that keep kids out of the workforce, and respond to mass shootings in schools with a bevy of 'thoughts and prayers'. Protect the children?
Fuck all the way off.
And then there's what's going on in Africa, with intense homophobia and public lynchings. Uganda's new bill is horrifying, raising the specter of the death penalty for the crime of falling in love.
Even here in Canada there's action being taken. I've seen Canadian Conservative politicians spreading hate on social media, repeating bullshit about crime statistics that have no basis in fact. I've seen Policy 713 in New Brunswick being raised for review, as if basic protections for LGBTQ+ kids in school is something that needs to be rehashed.
Even the usual Rainbow Capitalism that we usually see around June has been muted, tamped down by fear of boycotts and backlash after Bud Light dared to work with a popular influencer for an ad campaign. She happened to be a transgender woman, and apparently that's grounds for mass outrage in the Twitter verse.
Things are really scary right now.
But we've been through scary times before.
This community is strong. We are powerful, and we are not going to be cowed by a bunch of grandstanding bigots with delusions of self-importance. From Stonewall to today, we have always found that by banding together, we can change the world.
By reaching out to one another, linking hands and granting our support to our brothers, sisters, enby siblings, friends and lovers- we become unstoppable. We're a shield wall for each other.
A lone tree in a field can be torn down by strong winds. But a forest, standing together, roots entwined and locked together in the earth? That can withstand a hurricane.
I often talk about the importance of solidarity and unity in a crisis. In the wild, predators go after the lone animal in the herd. They don't go for the united front of beasties holding their ground. Like schoolyard bullies, they're cowards.
These bigoted bastards think we're weak and isolated. They think we don't know how to stand up for ourselves. Little do they know we've been doing that our entire lives, and every single one of us alive today has dealt with their shit before.
They want to force us back into the closet we clawed our way out of, and I don't know about you, but I nailed mine shut after I left it. I'm not going back.
They say that there's nothing to be proud about with regards to being born gay, or pan, or ace, or trans. And I'd say that's true enough- I'm no prouder of being asexual than I am of being born with brown hair.
But I am proud of being alive today. I'm proud of having the courage to live authentically as myself, and to give the middle finger to anyone who wants to shame me for it. I'm proud of having my found family and seeing them flourish and of being part of a strong group of friends that love one another.
It's not about being Ace. It's about being me, and accepting myself, and loving those around me, even when there are people in the world who want us to die.
I am proud of refusing to give in to the shame, self-hatred and disgust that they want me to feel.
That's what Pride is to me.
If anyone should go back into the closets, it's the bigoted, homophobic, transphobic assholes of the world. Let's remind them that the world doesn't belong to them, and that there is no place for them in the lives we've built together.
Happy Pride, my friends.