I grew up in the suburbs to the west of Philadelphia. My school wasn't very diverse, but it the issues never managed to touch me until I was graduating high school. I remember a friend (I am leaving them unnamed) had changed their name to be gender fluid and their diploma had their name given at birth, despite it even being changed on roll sheets for class.
I bring that up because last week, something pretty incredible happened. I was in the city, but my mom was 100% involved with what was going on and she kept me up to date. Drag Queen Storytime is exactly what it sounds like. Our township library was to host a Drag Queen to read during story hour with the goal of building friendships and teaching children to accept differences. From what I know, they did this at least twice in the past with no issue. This time, someone created a petition that 17,000 people signed to have the event cancelled.
I couldn't be there, but I saw a post on our county newspaper with some really awful comments that I don't care to share. Instead, this was my comment (copy pasted from Facebook). “This is horrifying. If you don't want to go, then don't go, but this sounds like an incredible program. Imagine being a kid going to this program and years later when they're passionate about makeup or they feel weird in their own skin and want to change it. Instead of feeling awkward, they can think back to this and remember how cool the experience was and they can be proud of who they really are. It gives a roll model to kids who need one. No one has the right to judge how another person wants to live their life and yes, parents have the choice on letting their kids go or not, but they don't have a choice on who their child becomes. This program is a really great opportunity and it's really saddening to see people making jokes about it and trying to shut it down.”
I was angry and upset and honestly I was struggling not to use curse words. Instead of replying to the hate, I chose to make my own statement and leave it at that. There were town meetings on whether or not the event would be cancelled. A traveling hate group was planning on showing up the day of the event (like those groups you see in the city or on college campus who yell at passerbys and say x, y, and z are going to Hell).
The day of the event came and I got a phone call from my mom and she was in tears. I wasn't really sure what would happen to be honest but I was shocked at what she said. Hundreds of people showed up to the library. Keep in mind it's not that big of a library and the story room is a small room in the basement. They had to shut down the street and they seperated the people who were against the event and the people who were there to support the event. My mom said the protestors looked miserable. I knew that my friends and their families would support it 100% but I honestly wasn't entirely sure about the rest of the town. The turnout was incredible and I cried on the phone with my mom.
A few days later we get to today. Taylor Swifts video for “You Need To Calm Down” is out and I decided to watch. I am not a really big fan of Taylor Swift, especially based on her past style of music, but when I heard the song for the first time I loved it and I thought watching the video would be worth a shot.
That song is going to be blasting from my room for a really long time. When I was listening I didn't even realize it was about pride and LGBTQIA+ but now that I'm really listening to the words, I love the message she's sending.
Sunshine on the street at the parade
But you would rather be in the dark ages
Making that sign, must've taken all night
You just need to take several seats and then try to restore the peace
And control your urges to scream about all the people you hate
‘Cause shade never made anybody less gay
It's as simple as that. Everyone needs to accept everyone and no one has the right to hate anyone for just being themselves.
I didn't think I'd have much to say about Pride and despite wanting to support it, I felt pretty disconnected from all of it. After what happened in my hometown and connecting to music, I feel all the love and happiness that comes from this incredible month.
So happy Pride 2019 to everyone, I'm crying so I think it's time to wrap up this post! If you're celebrating or did celebrate already, I hope you had a fun and safe time. If you're not, that's ok, but don't target those who are.