Every Pride month we get bombarded with corporations scrambling to show their allyship through their ads. A design with a rainbow here, a happy interracial couple there, it’s become quite performative. Pride itself means so much more than advertising of a rainbow and it definitely extends beyond the month of June. The truth is, for many of us, pride is every month. We show up unapologetically everyday. We provide black representation in digital spaces everyday but the time in which we are highlighted is only seen when our pride can be commodified. In our city of Houston, two prides exist. The white pride and the black pride. Even in the community there exist this huge separation of how and why we celebrate. Often times black patrons are not welcomed in white spaces. There is also not many, if any, black owned spaces for us to party amongst ourselves. Now that we live in Los Angeles we notice that in WeHo, space for us is almost nonexistent. There may be what's considered a "black night" in queer spaces and even that gets segregated by gay men and lesbian women. The trans and non-binary folx may often feel left out. So it really leaves you with the question of what has Pride become?
Pride itself was created to commemorate the Stonewall Riot of June 1969. Now as a masculine presenting black lesbian, I’ve always struggled to find my place in the community. I've found myself to be more feminine centered than masculine of center. I'm more androgynous than I am feminine. It wasn’t until I did some intense digging through historical archives that I found that women like me existed on the frontlines of Stonewall. Where there was Marsha P. Johnson, there was also Storme DeLaverie. Storme DeLaverie admitted to throwing the first punch at Stonewall, which incited the revolution. She was a well known “Drag King” who was also an activist. She looked at her approach and style as a performer as a revolutionary act. For many years following Stonewall she was unknown. They simply referred to her as "the lesbian who threw that punch". Storme DeLaverie transitioned in 2014. Let’s keep her legacy alive by speaking her name when we mention Pride.
As black lesbians we have also looked for ourselves in the lenses of our peers. Until recently we have gone unseen in the digital space. For one the algorithms are designed to keep us unseen. The codes are intentional. A youtuber by the name of Jade Fox recently made a video about the way the algorithms work and how white youtubers intentionally leave black lesbians out of collaborations. Youtube has created it so that black lesbian youtubers are not shown as frequent as white lesbian youtubers. In fact the only time black lesbians are seeked is for Pride month and Black History Month. Go figure. The same can be said for Instagram. There is a strange obsession with white and racially ambiguous lesbians. The way the algorithms are designed, they intend to keep us in the shadows. I have often wondered how far we would be if we were not black but I quickly remember comparison is the thief of joy and we are exactly where we need to be. This is what it has become so important for us to support each other.
For us pride means more than the month. It means being present, being seen, being yourself unapologetically. So for us PRIDE MONTH IS EVERY MONTH!