Author: Mark Bittlestone
Mark Bittlestone is a stand-up comedian. He is also very gay man.
Just a very gay man, doing a lot of straight-up gay stuff.
This is normally a comedy blog about gay issues. However, partly because I’m still hungover from my birthday on Sunday (it’s now Thursday) and partly because, like all gays, I fundamentally believe – without evidence – that I have “important things to say”, this week’s blog is SERIOUS and there are NO jokes in it. Sorry about that, normal service resumes next week. Here are my top tips for Pride Month…
1) Know your history.
From the Stonewall riots, to the AIDS crisis, to Section 28 (a law in the UK which banned any discussion of homosexuality in schools until 2005) – I think a crucial part of Pride is learning about the modern struggle for rights. But, as important as that is, so is learning about queerness prior to the 20th and 21st century and in non-western cultures. Queerness is SO not a modern phenomenon: for example, almost all indigenous societies of which we have documented evidence had words for more than two genders in their language. So one way you can be queer this June that doesn’t require leaving your sofa (useful if you’re in a country that still has some element of COVID-lockdown) is to learn your history baaaaabe.
2) Pride is intersectional.
Discussions about “whether the LGBTQIA+ community is a community” crop up endlessly, but the point is this: eliminating straight, white, able-bodied, CIS gendered masculinity as the de facto image of normality benefits us all. As someone who is all of those things (bar straight: have you SEEN me on a Friday night?), I understand how tempting it can be to want to benefit from that image, rather than tear it down, but that is such a short-term view. As long as this image exists, your rights as a gay man are fundamentally temporary privileges afforded to you, not rights. So, even if you’re only acting in your own interests – which hopefully you’re not – you should still be out there supporting your black, indigenous, disabled, intersex, trans brothers, sisters and non-binary community members.
3) Wear what you want and dance your lil’ ass off.
Every year straight people (and a fair share of gay people) complain that “pride is overly sexual”. These are the same people who would take no issue with 16 year old cheerleaders dancing during intervals in a sports game to appeal to a mostly middle-aged male audience. It’s not the nudity that they have a problem with. It’s the queerness. It’s the gender nonconformity. So, imo, wear want you want. Dance how you want. Twerk where you want. These spaces aren’t ours until we take them.
4) Stay home and do you.
By the same token, though, there’s obviously a billion different ways to be queer. You don’t have to wear S&M at a pride parade, or wear a jockstrap at a pride parade, or wear nothing at a pride parade, to be proud of being queer. You can celebrate it absolutely however you want. And remember, just being yourself is defiance and pride, because of all the barriers you have necessarily had to overcome just to be where you are.
5) Every month is pride month.
Clearly this is a cliché but it’s true. Pride is about celebrating the fact that you’re alive. That you’ve overcome a huge amount of adversity. That your community has done too. So be kind to yourself and support your community every day of every month.
For more from Mark give him a follow on Instagram and check out his videos below!