By Eve Xelestiál Moreno-Luz
Featuring AlexGrey Valdez, Emon Evergreen, Danny War, Navor, & Leah Ann Mitchell.
Pride season is here, and is love really saving us? Or is it saving the lives of the cis, white, and able bodied world that Pride caters to? Convincing others why we don’t care, want to, or feel comfortable celebrating “Pride Month,” Is a laborious process. More than likely these heavy conversations will lead to burn out, and feeling isolated. Our friends and family who are able bodied and neurotypical can’t seem to recognize why we don’t feel like going out to our local “Pride” themed events. I reached out to my community in California and asked them:
EM: "How do you feel in the context of being 'prideful' and your disability?
What does pride look like to you, as a disabled person?
Chance Emon Evergreen
“As someone who is bipolar and suffers from anxiety/psychosis, being prideful with respects to my gender/sexual identity mostly speaks to my inability to maintain relationships with neurotypical folks on this level.
It has been very hard to try and pursue finding love in the queer community when the symptoms of my mental illness are conflated with the likes of “ghosting someone,” being “flaky,” etc.
During pride month, I feel excluded. I feel alone. I feel like nobody will ever be willing to do the work to love me because it’s too difficult. The gays just want to take their photo kissing during ‘pride’ in booty shorts, a fetish harness, and call it day. For some, that’s enough to feel validated in their identity and truth. Not for me.
To go to pride and see people find lifelong partners in a matter of seconds…. to see how a simple encounter, that my mental illnesses stops me from engaging in, leads to a lifetime of happiness for others honestly makes me feel........ hopeless.
For me, pride looks like reminding myself that I’m worthy of love. Surrounding myself with people and places that make me believe that, and remind me of it. Places where I don’t have to feel attacked for not being able to participate to the same extent as others on behalf of my illness.”
“I haven't been interested in pride since I was like 17 for the obvious reasons. Last year, I went for a friend who had recently came out and was scared. So I went with her. There was so much dancing and I spent a lot of my time thinking of how I couldn't dance too. See, my pain levels had just started rising again for the first time in a few years.
It was the first time in two years I had used a mobility aid and I had so much embarrassment around it.
There is so much pressure from gay men, and I wanted to fulfill my need to be seen and affirmed by gay cis men. Honestly, during pride, I didn't actually bring my cane because I was embarrassed. Because I didn't want people to see me like that, because I didn't want to pass through security or metal detectors like that. I was afraid of explaining myself. During the resistance march that happened in West Hollywood during Pride Season in 2017, I did have the good sense to know I couldn't walk without my cane, so I took it.
I went with my friend Dom. He had to help me a lot. Massage my leg. Help me up. Help me sit. I could feel people watching me. It's common. It was such an intense experience. When the march ended I needed to use the bathroom, but of course, all the local business had their restrooms closed to the marchers.
We joked about how welcoming WeHo is to marchers…….
We saw some porta potties by the festival and asked security if there was a way to use them as they were the closest ones, and of course we could not because those were for people who had tickets ONLY! There was no way to make an exception. I remember being in some of the most intense pain I had ever experienced. It was my first time seeing my friend Dom in person, and I was embarrassed. We eventually found some public porta potties, but of course the accessible designated stall was taken by some able-bodied cis white man.
I remember he looked thrown off when he saw me waiting, the hand holding my cane was shaking from the standing.
When I think of pride, that's what I think of. When I think of resistance narratives run by white cis gays, I think of that. I think of how accessibility is a legality issue for them. They do it to comply, not because they care, or are mindful.
How simple it should be to just be mindful of disabled folx.”
THEY/THEM/THEIRS & HE/HIM/HIS
“As much as pride is cute, I feel like most of it all is just a show.
Shows have their seasons but after the first few, you start to wonder if it’s gonna get better or worse, and to be honest, pride for me has consistently been both fun and disappointing every year. I like dancing and music as much as the next person, but being in large crowds of people for the majority of the day and a lot of high energy with little-to-no space to take a breath, or just recenter my body, is stressful. Wanting to take space as a fat brown genderqueer femme is all fun and games until the folks who domineer the space take notice.
The cis gay crowd is all eyes, and once someone steps in and is confident without eurocentric beauty standards; they’re shook!
I go to pride to take up space because these events wouldn’t exist were it not for trans women and trans femmes/femmes of color/ and Black Drag Kings. I go to honor my soft queer heart. I definitely never go alone and take breaks frequently because, let’s be honest, triggers are real out here for my depressed and anxious self. But generally, pride is funnest for me when I’m around my chosen family. Regardless of what we do, I feel safe, happy, and at home, which is what I think Pride is all about? Feeling free in yourself.”
“Pride exists in the myth of progress: stagnant, compliant and complacent. Pride exhausts our communities with expectations to be ‘prideful’ even when it presently exists to rebuke so much of the truths of our origins. From the white gayze to capitalist assimilation, pride monetizes off the realities and accelerates the reliance that we need ‘safe’ spaces that hold onto often harmful and violent forms of accountability, access, and living. It is ritual for corporations to intentionally operate within a single-issue politics, identity politics, and disposability politics which fashions violence of desirability to those deemed as ‘undesirable’ by means of policing, gaslighting, exploitation, surveillance, erasure and so forth. This extends to-from survivors who have lived/continue to live the reality of constant and non-consensual motion in which nonprofits and service providers vulture into the opportunity of savior, rather than abolitionist (which would suggest the needs of the former, while in addition is preventative, harm reducing and closer to liberating people).
Even when pride manifests as a performative period piece during the month of June, pride has always been political throughout the year.
I have known of trans siblings, chronically ill anarchists neurodivergent queens, disabled immigrants, non-binary sex workers, asexual femmes, deaf gender-nonconforming friends, cishet accomplices and queer partners who practice their truths in person, on the web, and off screen since it is not afforded to all of us to live unapologetically anywhere and or anytime. This engagement to each other in sober and non-sober spaces, where food is communal, consent is practiced, and donations are accepted, however no one will get turned way. The pride that I get to experience throughout the year and all year long is not by the very systems and corporations that violate my body and my mind, however are the spaces that have been envisioned, built, and created.
DQTBIPOC have always been demanded-asked-listed ways we can liberate our autonomous selves and collective communities. Pride has become an extension of the neo-liberal agenda which is sustained through the displacement of those who are poor, houseless, and or Indigenous to the debilitation of those experiencing the repercussions of war, and the degradation that comes with pipelines, cages (detention centers, jails, prisons, borders), and complexes (PIC, DIC, MIDC, MIDC, AIC, NPIC). If pride meant anything, then I would imagine this movement be intentional, intersectional, and interdependent in our practice, our praxis, and our participatory efforts to defend communities.
As someone who experiences the world in pain and in neurodivergence, I invite that pride can be witnessed as a process of transformation, of accountability, of political education (without the reformist-colonial agenda), of wellness, of healing, of pacing, of accessibility, and of capacity building intrapersonally and interpersonally.
Under the imperialist-white supremacist-capitalist-ableist-patriarchy, my body and my mind is expected to fulfill, to finish, to be full and grateful of the portions that have been granted for my survival, however it will and has always lacked in giving us access to living in our liberation.As the term “justice” is commonly used, I do not have interest in expanding the rights of the privileged nor do I believe the criminal legal system will get us anywhere, rather the vision I have of pride is getting to a present where the nourishment of our capacities to abolish, create, and steward relationships in all its complexities coexist.”
EM: “Pride Month” is not a celebratory season for all folx within the LGBTQ2IA+ community. In fact, when I asked Oakland-based artist Leah Ann Mitchell how she felt about “pride,” she was excited to be a part of a project like Disability Tales. However, after I reached out and asked what the status of her response to my question was, Mitchell expressed her transparency to the delay.
Leah Ann Mitchell
EM: If you’re not attending any “pride” events this season, try not to feel guilty for the lack of wanting to/not being able to participate. Staying in, honoring your reservations, and listening to our needs/wants is an act of resistance within itself. This “pride season,” ask your disabled friends, "What do you need from me?" Let your loved ones, family, and friends express what they are needing right now, instead of assuming what they need, let's ask! Consider staying in with your neurodivergent/disabled friends as an act of solidarity!
Edited by Venus Selenite
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Image 1: A graphic that includes a Filipinx person named Navor Resurreccion. Next to Navor, there is text that reads, "
Image 2: A Black trans persxn named Chance Emon Evergreen poses for a photograph during the queer and trans party OSTBAHNHOF in Los Angeles, June 7, 2018. Emon is wearing a black crop top that says, "Got Reparations?" while laying on a bed where folks will indulge in consensual play.
Image 3: A light skin trans-masculine Salvadoran person named Danny War poses for a photograph in front of a white bush of flowers, while holding his cane in Northridge, CA.
Image 4: A light skin South-american genderqueer person wearing a maroon shirt, a backwards hat, and light blue jeans named AlexGrey Valadez poses for a photograph in front of an apartment complex in MacArthur Park, CA.
Image 5: An API brown person named Navor Resurreccion poses for a photograph on the grassy hillside of Barnsdall Park in East Hollywood, CA June 4, 2018.
Image 6: A black trans woman named Leah Ann Mitchell is wearing a red dress with white dots, while posing in front of a bush of flowers at Canticle Farms in Oakland, CA.
About Eve Xelestiál Moreno-Luz:
Eve Xelestiál is a trans and queer multimedia artist of color living in South Central Los Angeles, raised by parents that migrated from Mexico City and Santa Ana, El Salvador. Although their work ranges from writing, video and photography, their passion is taking portraits of trans and queer POC, and they find affirmation in self-portraiture work. Follow Eve on Tumblr, Instagram, and their facebook page.