Parenting at Pride

An open letter to parents (especially cis{not trans} gendered and/or straight parents) considering bringing your children to pride,

 

Pride is a cultural festival. It is a festival that comes from a culture of struggle, of resistance. Our culture, queer and trans culture, pride culture, is a beautiful and exciting rainbow sparkle fest, but also has a rich history and an ongoing politic. Children are a welcomed and celebrated part of pride culture, as queer and trans folks can also be parents, aunties, uncles, entles and grandparents. Children who are raised in queer and trans families will in many cases be raised culturally queer. The stories, traditions and beliefs that make up our communities are passed on to them at home. This looks different ways, and includes different biases and focuses, but may include some important basics.

 

These basics may be broken down to something like this:

-You can love whoever you love and that’s ok.

-Some families have 2 moms, some have 2 dads, others have other combinations of adults who may go by those words or others like papa, baba, mapa, or Zaza.

-Families are about love and they come together in lots of different ways.

-Clothes, colours and activities aren’t gendered in their nature. Wearing pink doesn’t cancel a boy identity, nor does a dress or an art practice or a boyfriend. Girls can also wear whatever they want and still be girls. These are also not the only 2 options.

-Gender is personal and fluid and not necessarily something that is predictable or trackable from an outside observer position.

-If and when someone shares information about their gender or sexuality with you that is a gesture of trust. It is not your information to share, and doing so could not only hurt that trust but could potentially endanger that person.

 

I was reminded today while attending the drag ball game that serves as the kick off of pride week here in Victoria, that some parents who aren’t raising their kids in our culture, will bring them to our festivities without briefing them appropriately.

 

I stood on the rock, overlooking the playground and the ball game. I wore a short sequined and tulle dress in a light turquoise colour. My ears adorned with a string of tiny clothes pins,ย  neck with clutchable multi string pearls and rhinestone choker, with more rhinestones around my wrist. My face glistened in blues, purples and pinks.ย 

 

Child approaches.

 

“Are you a girl?”

 

I take a breath. Here we go. It would be nice to believe I could dress this way for one day without having to field this line of questioning.

 

“Sometimes. Are you? All the time?”

 

“Why are you wearing girls clothes?”

 

“They are my clothes. Do you know where you are?”

 

“Pschaw, yeah. Why you wearing girls clothes?”

 

“You need to go ask your parents to tell you more about where you are before you ask people questions about their clothes.”

 

I want parents to make sure that they are comfortable talking about queer people, queer lives, queer struggles and yes even queer sexualities before you traipse your kids off for a fun free day in the sun.

 

It is not the responsibility of queer bodies to cover up, dress down or play straight or gender conform for your comfort at pride.

 

Pride is not for your entertainment.

 

Yes we are entertaining. Our bright colours, flashy outfits, outrageous makeup and sassy banter bring a smile to your face. We wear them for each other, for ourselves and as armour, a way of protecting our unique diversity.

 

Our leather collars and leashes aren’t for shocking or gawking, but part of a deeply ritualized, stigmatized social order created and maintained through generations of BDSM and leather communities. These same communities and social orders have not only paved the way to the festivities you are so eager to enjoy, but also were largely who showed up to take care of the many who would be our communities elders now, but who were left to die during the HIV/AIDS plague in the late 80s and early 90s. Before you judge the pup in the leather mask, I urge you to reflect on what it unsettles in you. We grow from discomfort, any bottom can tell you that.

 

Our gender presentation isn’t a theatre for you, but a political theatre that pushes the envelope. Our drag makes more space for all of you and all of your children to be their whole beautiful sparkly selves. If you don’t see how its intended disruption benefits us all, you aren’t listening. Or you may be listening without hearing.

 

Our banter is dirty. It comes from a resistance community that was literally ejected from common society and forced into bars, sex clubs and potlucks, where our differences, our perverse desires, our pathological identities could find ways to be cosupportive. We built homes with humour, taking that which we were fired for, locked and shocked and lobotomized over, left homeless and orphaned over and making light, taking the piss out of it, taking the power back in efforts to heal; we work to become whole. We don’t need to sterilize this for your children’s ears, you need to orient your children to where you are bringing them.

 

You may feel that kids shouldn’t need to have the whole picture. This is privilege. You may feel you can bring them to the cultural festival and tell them about the culture later. This is entitlement. If you aren’t able to have these conversations with your kids, leave them at home. In fact. If you aren’t equipped to have these conversations, maybe you should stay home too. There are tomes of writing, YouTube videos, and even cultural consultants you could hire to get your knowledge up. Believing that our celebration is for your consumption, again, privilege and entitlement.

 

If you think you have done your work, but still aren’t sure if it’s a party for you, come with lots of offerings. Bring cash to support vendors and buy raffle tickets and drop money in the donation jars. Sign up as a volunteer, or volunteer to be designated driver to your queer and trans neighbours. You should recognize the responsibility you have as folks aspiring to allyship. Ally is a verb, an action of showing up for struggles that aren’t yours in service and support. You don’t get to decide that you are an ally, you show up in solidarity, and queers and trans folks will decide when you have earned that title.

 

If you are an aspiring ally bringing kids to pride, your role is 2 fold. The first being to not assume that your kids will not find themselves as a part of our culture. Showing up to support gender and sexuality diversity in public is a way to show your kids that you will support their differences if or when they may present. The second being to teach your children allyship, which will serve them regardless of what genders or sexualities they may grow into.

 

I’m reading my kid pride stories and introducing them to my teachers, my inspirations, the resistance leaders I owe my liberation to as a part of bringing them to pride. I hope you do the same.

 

In solidarity,

 

K

 

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  5 comments for “Parenting at Pride

  1. Manuela Schneider
    July 2, 2019 at 8:54 pm

    As a lesbian thank you, it made me cry so powerful. Happy pride to you and your family this week and throughout the year. โค๏ธ๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ’–

  2. Mandy
    July 2, 2019 at 11:30 pm

    Thank you Kori. This is amazing. โค

  3. Teeka
    July 3, 2019 at 12:56 am

    Thank you! I appreciate you over and over for being willing to teach!

  4. July 3, 2019 at 8:01 am

    Deeply thoughtful essay. I am humbled and enlivened by the incisive brilliance.

  5. Sean Brown
    July 3, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    Fantastic article, Kori. You are so thoughtful and articulate. Thank you for writing this. โค๏ธ

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