Today is the last day of June, which means it is the last day of Pride Month. I've had a good one. Gay Days was amazing! Our Pride party went really well and we've seen some of the best drag shows at Parliament House this month. All in all it was successful.
Obama even threw us some bones. He "officially" proclaimed June Pride Month and yesterday he took the time to shake hands with a few gays and lesbians to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots (I know the wording of that sounded bitchy. I do understand the importance of what he did and acknowledging the beginning of the gay rights movement is a big deal). He promised we (the gay community) would not be disappointed by him and I truly hope he's right. I'm getting a little nervous that he will prove to be like most democrats and not follow through on any of his promises to the gay community for fear of a backlash. Too many politicians like to go the route of it's not the right time or there are other issues that need attention first. I argue that the rights of our citizens is a pretty big issue and reflects on everything else we do as a country. Only time will tell what Obama will accomplish and I'm willing to give him a bit more time to prove himself.
As Pride Month ends I try to remind myself how important it is to feel proud of who you are on a daily basis. It doesn't have to be June. You don't have to be standing in a sea of beautiful men in tiny bathing suits. You don't have to be drunk in a foam party. Or stuffing dollar bills in a drag queen's cleavage. You should be proud everywhere.
I know I shock a lot of people by my openness and directness about many topics, including my sexuality. I'm out to everyone and anyone. I know people who have questioned how open I am in my poetry, fearing it might hurt my career. This is ridiculous. I write about what I care about, what I find interesting, and I write to make people think. I want to give that gay boy out there a poem that he can relate to that's about his life and his experiences.
Others have asked me why I need to be out to my students? First of all these are the same people who believe that saying you are gay is talking about sex. Sex is really the least of it. We all have sex and we all have sex in various positions and with various people. I don't tell my students how my boyfriend and I have sex. I just mention in some causal way either my boyfriend or something that clearly indicates I am gay. My favorite way is using a get-to-know-you quiz. On the first day I give my students five questions everyone has to go around and answer. One of them is: who is your celebrity crush? Well I always tell them my celebrity crush is Jude Law (clearly a man). This is a simple, easy, and very effective way of dealing with it. Because I'm open and relaxed about it, so are my students. They also don't spend the semester trying to figure out my personal life. Plus I teach writing. I teach writing about yourself and sharing yourself in a open and honest way. The most positive student critiques I've ever gotten are those that say how I made them feel comfortable and made them feel like they could share and write about topics they never would have in other courses with other instructors. These comments aren't even coming from gay students, but those who don't feel they fit the mold, which believe it or not is most everyone.
Being out and proud of who you are will make some people mad, some uncomfortable, and some will hate you for being what they won't allow themselves to be. Living in silence is deadly, not just for gay people, but for anyone. We must stand up for who we are and what we believe in. There is never an excuse to stay silent.
As the month closes I vow to ask myself everyday: what I have done to make myself proud? If you don't know that song reference than you suck and if you only know it from that god awful Biggest Loser show you suck even more.
-Stephen (Full of PRIDE)