Pride is something I’ve had multiple issues with for a long time. Even the name. Truthfully though I’ve never allowed myself to investigate what Pride actually is in reality. On the surface there is a discussion around whether it is a protest or a celebration. The main line of thinking is that in the past it was a protest as there were large battles going on for equal rights for LGBT+ people. Nowadays though most of the well known fights for rights have been won or resolved.
When I visited Copenhagen in Summer this year. I didn’t know that it was Pride Week the entire time we were due to be there. After missing the initial flights due to my passport arriving late I got lucky with cheap enough flights to get out there a few days later. I had a more optimistic view of Pride in this case. This is because I could control my engagement with the event as it was over a longer period of time. I was looking forward to exploring Copenhagen during a festival with live music, hot weather and great food. Which is actually, exactly what I got.
This experience has really provided me with a lot to think about regarding my perception of myself and others. It affected me emotionally more than I was prepared for. Throughout my life I have distanced myself not only from ‘LGBT’ flavored ideas but also from myself as a transgender woman. This was the first time that I lived life as a ‘transgender woman’. I didn’t try to hide it, I didn’t put on too much makeup, in face I painted flags on my face that told everyone exactly what I was. It was one of the most important experiences of my life. It offered an opportunity to actually live properly, I wasn’t constantly worried about ‘passing’, I didn’t have to monitor my voice, the way I was acting or even the clothes I was wearing. It was like breathing clean fresh air for the first time.
Then the dissonance happened. Sure everything was fantastic literally wearing ‘I am trans’ on my cheeks, but that’s not how I want to live the rest of my life. I want to be a cisgender woman. I know this is impossible, but I can still desire the experience. These feeling conflicted very hard at Pride. On one hand I was constantly almost in tears because of the incredible passion, soul and bravery displayed by so many people. However I also questioned the necessity of it all, do we really need to be ‘loud and proud’? Does everything really need to be run by drag queens? Do we need this us vs them attitude towards straight cisgender people?
These are big questions, both personally and as a society. It’s not often it’s all displayed in such detail right in front of you. It was terrifying to know that a large group of individuals can seamlessly merge into one identity, one set of beliefs and one goal. Even though each and every one of those individuals have nuanced views on many many topics and discussions. Why do we feel the need to stand under one flag, as a sexuality, a country, a planet? Is it an unnecessary hold over from the past or is it a fundamental part of the human experience? I hope that the research and project I am undertaking this year will yield some clarity on this large and complex area.