Sean McBride

Pride, pandemic, and protest

Embracing a more inclusive vision of Pride this year

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Hi, my name is Sean, and I’m a white cis-gendered gay man. I want to share a story about inclusion.

I’m always excited about June every year, because it’s Pride month. I enjoy the events and parades, but I most enjoy the opportunity to get together in-person with friends old and new in the LGBTQ community to celebrate our special bond and our progress.

This year, with the COVID-19 pandemic completely changing life in San Francisco and across the US, I knew that Pride month would be different. I was slowly coming to terms with the fact that in-person events and celebrations wouldn’t be possible. That I’d need to find new ways to celebrate. And that perhaps I wouldn’t be able to entirely replace that special feeling I look forward to each year, at least not entirely.

Then, just before the start of June, George Floyd was murdered, and protests demanding racial justice and an end to police brutality began across the country.

While I consider myself on the side of racial equity and strive to be anti-racist, I have to admit that a part of me had an ugly, racist initial reaction: “Oh no! First COVID and now this new situation. Why is the world determined to take my Pride month away from me!” I’m immensely ashamed of this reaction, but it was there among the jumble of other thoughts and emotions tumbling through my head. A classic example of a victim mindset, where everything is about me.

Thankfully, another part of me was able to recognize that this racist thought was not in line with my values. My internal monologue over the next day or so went something like this: “Wait a minute. Pride month isn’t mine, it’s ours. It belongs to the entire LGBTQ community. Black people are queer, so this issue affects our community. White people are queer as well, so this is our community's issue to address. This Pride month should be ABOUT this issue. And that could be a powerful and much-needed thing. Pride originated in protest and has helped to sustain our community through one terrifying virus already. This year is a new chapter in that history.”

Going through this mental process and having conversations with others about it has helped to re-frame both Pride and these protests in my mind. They’re no longer separate things, they’re linked now. It’s inspired me to look for intersectional ways to support the LGBTQ community through the lens of the protests. One resource I found as a result is the LGBTQ Freedom Fund, which is a non-profit bail bond fund specifically focused on helping LGBTQ individuals who can’t afford to pay bail. Given the negative outcomes for — as one example — black trans individuals who are incarcerated, that work seems especially important and relevant now.

This Pride month, it was good to be reminded that, while I’m a member of this community, the LGBTQ community is much bigger than me. And when a part of our community needs support, I should step up regardless of what time of year it is and what I had planned.

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