The Promise of Pride
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: Hello and welcome to Outward Slate’s podcast about queer culture, politics and all the cute things the LGBT is are wearing for Pride Month. I’m Christina Ricci, a senior writer at Slate.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: I am Jules Gil Peterson, and I am all of your mothers. Just kidding. I am not your mom. I’m not make any food for your dinner. Lunch.
Bryan Lauter: And I’m Brian. Louder, and I edit outward.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: Well, y’all, it’s June. It’s our big month. That’s our moment. I feel like June is to the LGBT, is as a full moon is for werewolves. It’s like when we transform into our most dangerous and full fledged and ferocious selves. So, listeners, I hope you’re hydrating and sunscreen ing and howling at the moon and steering clear of any hazardous discourse this month.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: And hopefully, if you’re a subscriber, which you should be, you have seen that we’re doing extra episodes for Pride Month this year. We have something in your feed every week, including a review of the gay rom com Fire Island and a few episodes from elsewhere around Slate, like our very own Jules on Slate’s parenting podcast about supporting trans kids. But this week for our main episode, we wanted to take pride ahead on the annual celebration part of it all. We want to talk about what value it holds and what values it represents.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: So I remember maybe it was a few years after I came out or something, there was some discourse about Why do we even need pride anymore? And I think there’s been a conservative argument and a radical argument for that idea. Conservatives will say and do say, gay Republicans say all the time gays have won. You know, we have marriage, we have workplace protections. What else is there? In fact, even before we had workplace protections, I think they were still saying that. And why must we keep harping on this identity stuff? My sexuality is the least interesting thing about me.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: But there’s also been some well-deserved skepticism about pride on the left. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, probably on this podcast now that being queer has been so normalized, so much so that companies are commodifying it at our own damn celebrations. What’s even the point? But the best response to either of those arguments that I’ve heard, and that still kind of gives me chills when I think about it in a good way, is that we always will need pride, because every pride is someone’s first pride.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: Every year new people are coming out and joining the fam old people. Young people. For some of them, it’s no big deal. For some of them, it’s really hard. It’s it’s everything to them. And in this one month of the year, we take ourselves out in public all at once and show each other who we are. And, you know, it looks different everywhere. In some places, pride is when the whole city becomes basically a queer bar for the weekend. In smaller towns, maybe it’s more like the one day a year where there is more than one queer thing to do.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: Mm hmm.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: But every year, there are some LGBTQ people who are experiencing that for the very first time. So this month, we wanted to talk to someone who can remind us what that’s like. So in this episode, I’m so excited, we are going to chat with Sami from Michigan, who went to Pride for the first time ever this year. Congrats to Sammy. And then the three of us are going to talk about our own first pride’s and how our relationship to it has changed since then and what it means to us now. But first, we have our second installment of our new Talk Back segment. Jules, why don’t you introduce us to the name of our segment?
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: Yes. So after careful deliberation and many focus group sessions, we have come to a decision at the podcast to call this the Listener Talk Back segment. Thoughts and queries. How do you spell thoughts? Well, this is not a visual medium, your imagination. This is the segment where you can send us your thoughts, your queries, the proof of your thought ness and queries for us. And this month, we are very grateful that one of our listeners, Alisha, has sent in a voice memo with some follow up thoughts on our episode about prison in the gay imagination. So let’s give a listen to what Alisha had to say.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: Hi, this is Alisha, big fan of Outward. I was really interested in your discussion. Portion of, as Brian put it, prison in the gay imagination. And it brought to mind a song by alternative rock band My Chemical Romance called You Know What They Do to Guys Like US in Prison. The song is from their 2004 album, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: NCR is not, technically speaking, a queer band, although they have a very large queer fan base. There is a great piece on them taught us about this. I’ve always been kind of fascinated by the song and its popularity among said queer fan base, because the title seems to reference the kind of homophobic fear mongering joking that Brian mentioned in your discussion. But the lyrics of the song are very homo erotic and point to a genuine questioning of sexuality, which certainly resonated with very closeted teenagers like myself in the mid 2000. The chorus features lines such as now, but I can’t. And I don’t know how. We’re just two men, as God had made us. While I can’t, well, I can. Too much, too late or just not enough of this. I’ll kiss your lips again.
Speaker 4: Oh.
Speaker 4: And my boy is dying.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: This homoeroticism reminded.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: Me of what Brian and Christina both said about the eroticism option of prison as a queer space. What a well engaged and thought out response to that episode. I continue to be impressed by our listeners.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: Listeners, please, please, please follow in Alicia’s hallowed footsteps. Send us your voice, memos and thoughts and queries, and maybe we’ll feature them on this show.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: Yeah, just a reminder, you can send your voice memos to outward podcast at Slate.com.
Bryan Lauter: So now I think it is time for our usual round of parades and provocations, I guess. Especially this month, but present provocations nonetheless. Why don’t we start with you, Charles?
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: Sure I have a benefit. Do they have a provocation? I may have to keep it short.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: Because is my doings.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: Wow. You know, I could. I could have, you know, stolen a whole episode to rant about this. Okay. So, you know, many of you may know The New York Times, New York Times magazine published a very long form piece that had somewhat different titles depending on where you read it. And there’s the battle over gender therapy or why doctors are divided over getting affirming care for children. Written by Emily Bazelon, who is a staff writer for New York Times Magazine and also, I believe, co-host the Slate podcast. So, you know, the calls are about to come from inside house. Now, you know, this piece, it follows in a great tradition of absolute garbage journalism that, you know, really has decided that trans people’s lives, which, you know, we have talked about on this podcast, are not always rosy, especially when you’re a child or actually a really interesting matter of debate where it’s really important to hear, quote unquote, both sides.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: And this longform piece really promised to do that by actually, you know, really doing a lot of journalistic work at sites, pretty much all the big players in the United States and even in the Netherlands, where some of the paradigms for for young people’s gender affirming care were developed. And it also interviews trans young people. And it pretty much, you know, included phone calls, long phone calls and conversations with all of the big researchers, historians, psychologists, social workers. Yours truly was on the phone with the author for a long time.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: And, you know, the final piece also included a lot of airtime for people and groups that are explicitly dedicated to reducing the number of trans people in the world to forcibly transitioning people and who are outright opposed to the existence of trans people in the first place. It includes some conspiracy theories that have been very delicately laundered and dressed up and presented without much commentary. It also contains just outright errors of fact that some people may be like historians who co-host podcasts, might have been in a position to tell the author about or maybe did tell the author.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: But anyways, here’s what I want to say about this. And this is obviously a general problem that we’re facing in a moment when trans people are literally under attack during pride month, when it is illegal for some young people to even access the very health care that is being talked about in these articles. We’re just getting all of these. But really, shouldn’t we shouldn’t we make it harder for trans kids to transition while guess what, some people already are? And, you know, I have a long Twitter thread about this. I read a little Substack piece about it. So, you know, check that out if you want to hear more from me on this and B are probably tired of it.
Bryan Lauter: Well, put it on the show page for sure.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: That’s great. Thank you. Yeah. I mean, do you, baby, are tired of hearing from me about it? But here’s what really bothers me, right? Trans people are not the first ones to get up and say, Oh, we love our doctors. Oh, my gosh, they’re the nicest people. They’ve always had our backs. They continue to just be so helpful with us. Right. And this article, I think, really does a disservice to the history of trans medicine by passing it off, as in the best interests of trans people. As I as I point out in this in this piece that I put out on my substack trans medicine was designed for transphobic purposes. It was deliberately designed to stop trans people from transitioning. And that was codified as the best practice of the field. And that is literally the governing body, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, that is talked about in this piece without any particular context.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: So guess what? Here’s what I want to say. Here’s why I’m provoked. It is the height of cowardice, and journalistic malpractice, in my opinion, is a complete lack of ethics to reach out to credentialed, well researched scholars who tell you the truth, tell you the risks of just publishing another ideologically biased both sides kind of piece, and then just to go ahead and publish it anyways. I’m really mad about it. I’m just tired of this nonsense. I think it’s endangering people’s lives, so that’s as much as I’m going to say here. But obviously I’m feeling a little bit provoked and a little less proud than I would have liked to.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: So, Brian, tell us, are you bringing us a provocation as well, y’all?
Bryan Lauter: I am so provoked. Okay. Let me tell you, let me just set the scene of this provocation. So I had just gotten back from a lovely vacation in Barcelona. I’m in the car on the way home from the airport in New York. Pull out my Instagram. I see an ad from Postmates. That’s the delivery service, food delivery and other things, I think. I don’t really use that one, but yeah, I think it delivers things and it was their Pride campaign and what they chose to do this year was talk about what bottom?
Bryan Lauter: Should be eating. The name the name of the campaign is Eat with Pride, the bottom friendly menu. And what this purports to do is educate those who thought about what they could be ordering from Postmates, you know, ostensibly to aid them. And they’re bottoming this this pride season. To do this, the person is partnered with an anal surgeon and sexual health awareness expert actually will play a clip of the of the just so you can get a sort of the flavor of it.
Speaker 5: Insoluble fiber won’t help you feel cute. So avoid things like whole grains, wheat, bran, cauliflower, potatoes, legumes. Hold up. Are you just fully diving into those beans? The problem with these foods, as they don’t dissolve in water, which could cause a traffic jam in your digestive system making a mess of your evening. Speaking of messy, it’s a good idea to avoid dairy.
Bryan Lauter: Okay, so you’ve heard that there’s a lot that you can unpack here about bottom shame. And I want to point our listeners to Leah Herrera, who we’ve had on the podcast before. His Instagram is at Herrera Images. He has a fantastic Instagram story that’s in his highlights. I believe what I want to say about this is that this ad feels like the culmination of a really, really troubling discourse or sort of trend that I’ve noticed the past few years online, wherein bottoms are expected to basically have disordered eating to be like good in their, you know, to be responsible or like good citizens of of, of bottom town.
Bryan Lauter: You’ll see like, like a lot of guidance around, you know, what not to eat, what to eat, but then also just talking about like, oh, all I had for dinner was, is because I’m going to like have a guy come over later or I didn’t eat for like 48 hours because I was going to this like party. Not to mention, like advocation for like pretty unsafe amounts of dishing. Not to get too graphic on the part, but like, there’s that too, in addition to the, to the eating aspect. But this is all built around shame, right? About not being perfectly clean every time you want to have sex and the idea that you should not it’s like offensive to tops if you are. Right. Take away from this discourse is that tops are like unable to handle the fact that they are fucking someone in the ass just to be like completely blunt about it.
Bryan Lauter: Right. And it’s just it’s gotten to a place where it’s really disturbing to me and what we’re the message we’re sending. And I worry that there are like especially younger gays who are like coming up on like Instagram and TikTok and whatever, where they’re really getting the messaging that this is like normal. It’s not normal, it’s cruel, it’s immature, it’s unhealthy. I want us to grow up and stop it. It’s fantastic. If you want to have anal sex to prepare for anal sex, that’s fine. We’re not against that on the pod like we’re preparing for. The kind of sex you want to have is great, but anal sex is anal sex if you’re going to have it on either side, right? The top bottom divide, you need to treat it with respect and compassion and grace and stop this this just horrible messaging about bottoms needing to, like, have eating disorders to exist. All right. That’s all I have to say about that.
Bryan Lauter: Christina, what do you have for us?
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: Well, we’re three for three on the provocations during Pride Month. I’m provoked as well. So I’m provoked by the Victory Fund, which is sort of the main organization that funds and trains and endorses LGBTQ candidates for public office at all levels of the ballot. So this is going to get a little bit in the weeds into DC politics, which I think is fine because as we know, some people in DC listen to this podcast and I think it’s important that I educate them about what exactly is going on in their name here in DC.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: So there’s a gay ex-cop running for city council person against a progressive incumbent. Basically, the one issue by which he’s differentiating himself from the incumbent is on public safety. And he, you know, has a great relationship with the Metropolitan Police Department, obviously, as somebody who used to work there.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: The other fun thing about him, so this guy’s name is Sala Zaharie. He his campaign chair, with whom he launched his campaign for city councilman, was a Republican, actually, who not only was a registered Republican, but had deep ties to Trump and the world of insurrectionist conservatives. He actually worked at a right wing think tank. He did a fellowship at this think tank, the Claremont Institute, that has done all kinds of anti LGBTQ work. So the candidate only got rid of this guy when news outlets started reporting on like, oh, why is the. A guy running as a Democrat have a Republican as his campaign chair?
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: Well, the thing you need to know about D.C. politics is that our primary, our Democratic primary is basically our general election because Republicans just don’t win for local office here in D.C.. So come to find out, CILLIZZA Parry, this this ward one candidate used to be registered as an independent until checks watch one month before he registered before he launched his campaign as the Democratic candidate for office. He’s never voted in a Democratic primary. His campaign treasurer, by the way, who who’s still in the campaign, only recently changed his party ID to Democrat. So really this guy is a Republican in Democrat’s clothing, the husband of his gay campaign manager. Now he has a new campaign manager who’s who’s gay and presumably not a Republican. But the husband of that campaign manager was caught on tape stealing signs that mentioned his Republican ties.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: Because Ward one where Salazar party is running is a ward where a lot of rich white gays live. And so he’s got a lot of support. My sources on the ground tell me that actually, like white gay men who are very concerned about public safety in the ward they live in and maybe are not too pleased with how that progressive incumbent has been handling it, are sort of the primary supporters or like the real energy behind this campaign.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: It also doesn’t hurt that this candidate is relatively handsome. The Victory Fund endorsed Salazar’s party against the progressive incumbent. You know, they want to bring a gay back to city council. And it raises the question for me of what do we want when we talk about gay representation? What does it mean to have a gay on city council? And what will it do for gay people to have somebody there who is part of our community?
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: The Victory Fund has given more than $70,000 to this campaign, which is actually kind of a lot in a local campaign. We know that an organization that advocates for more charter schools gave a similarly sized chunk of money to Victory Fund. And so there’s some analysis that suggests that maybe that was the Victory Fund was sort of a pass through entity. The other thing that’s happening is there’s a gay progressive who’s running in my ward and who I’m so excited about his name, Zachary Parker. He’s great. And the Victory Fund did endorse him.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: But give.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: Him no money. Oh, so there’s two guys who stand a chance to get on city council. Only one of them got money from the Victory Fund. And that’s the more conservative one who’s trying to hide his Republican ties. And the progressive candidate in my ward who’s actually running against a guy with extremely good name recognition because he’s been on the council before and who’s actively a homophobe and in a debate tried to say LGBTQ and said LGBTQ, which you know, is not on its own disqualifying and actually could be a useful acronym when you’re trying to like host an event that is trying to be like everyone but says, man, this event is right.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: I don’t think that’s.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: What he meant.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: And it’s just it seems so.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: Ironic to me and such like poor reflection of what the Victory Fund is supposed to stand for, that I’m extremely provoked. I’m sad that they’re doing this in my name, you know, putatively as a queer person in DC. And I think they need to take a good, hard look at themselves and wonder what they actually want when they’re trying to get a gay on city council, which is a noble goal. And I would be extremely happy to have a gay on city council. But at what cost?
Bryan Lauter: All right. When we first started having discussions about how I wanted to cover Pride this year, we realized that none of us really had a good sense of what the vibe was going to be. The pandemic is slowly fading or being ignored or whatever is happening with that. So you’d think we’d be ready to come together and celebrate. But of course, as we’ve been talking about on the show for months now, trans and queer communities are under a coordinated, vicious assault from state legislatures and right wing demagogues. And as Christine I recently wrote about in Slate, regarding the anti prior to U-Haul Nazi plot in Idaho, all of that hateful lawmaking and rhetoric is translating into real life violence, and that is sure to get worse.
Bryan Lauter: And then on top of all of that, we have this year’s particularly wild barrage of corporate pride branding that feels somehow both more elaborate than ever and more absurd, at least to me. So again, what is the vibe, this pride? To help us answer that question and maybe to find a fresher, maybe a less jaded view on the season.
Bryan Lauter: We decided we wanted to talk to someone for whom 2022 represents their first time participating in Pride events. We heard from a few volunteers. Thanks to all of you all who who reached out to us. But today, we’re going to be talking with Sammie, who is a michigander who just attended what she called a warm up pride in Kalamazoo and who is gearing up for the Grand Rapids pride that is happening the weekend after we’re recording Sammie. Welcome so much to our thank you for being here.
Speaker 6: Thank you guys for having me. I’m excited to chat.
Bryan Lauter: So before we get into what went down in Kalamazoo, because we want to hear about that. I wanted you to just share a little bit about yourself. How do you identify? What do you do? What is your vibe?
Speaker 6: My name is Sammie. I am a late in life lesbian. I came out at the age of 30 or 30. I’m 33 now. I had some struggles in my twenties, some dark times, and just a lot of mental health related issues depression, anxiety and so forth. Right. With this couple of suicide attempts. And it just really impacted me and I’ve been really fortunate the last three years of my life to have had the support that I had and just kind of lead with curiosity to to want better for my life and to step into my authentic self. I was completely ignorant to the fact that I was ever going to come out. I was like that. I’m just never going to do that.
Speaker 6: But as I continue to grow and develop my own journey, I was like, Well, you know what? I’m just really unhappy and I got to do this. And I did it and was very well received and I’m very thankful for that. And I and I am moving forward into this, this light of my mental health journey, trying to share the vulnerability behind it. And so that’s a side passion of mine to travel around the world.
Speaker 6: I climb mountains, I run races with a very mental health focus. And I love that. I’m very active in the running community here in Grand Rapids and doing a lot of fun, pride stuff with different groups as well. My day job, I’m in tech sales. I’m a pocket tech nerd. I do love that. But what really drives me every single day is this community focus and just helping others.
Bryan Lauter: I know that in the time since you came out, we had the pandemic, which obviously got in the way of a lot of pride celebrations. But aside from that, what sort of made you nervous about participating in Pride events before this year?
Speaker 6: It was a personal thing. I knew that I was queer very early on in life, teenage years, and I just unfortunately had an experience where that was not well-received. And so I didn’t have any confidence to actually come out at the time when I started to feel the way that I felt. And so I think I just turned my brain off to all of it.
Speaker 6: You know, I identified as straight up until I was 30 years old and truthfully just completely had blinders on to anything else because I was like, not, this is my path, this is what I meant to do. I got to do the things. And so I just never immersed myself in the culture and learned and educated myself. And I am I’m I’m very sad for that former version of myself, in a sense. But here I am now and it feels really it feels really good. I wouldn’t change it for the world because you can’t live in the past. But yeah, I just I didn’t I didn’t have any any desire to to try to understand that world because I was just hiding from my own self.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: I feel like a lot of us can probably relate to that in different ways. There are things that just take a long time, and for some of us they take longer than for others. And I’ve just never you know, I’ve never been able to to exactly explain why that might be. But but I feel like there are always sort of beautiful gifts that come around for those of us that had to. Like, for me, it was I had to wait a long time to transition. And but, you know, it’s like sometimes you have to wait a long time to go to Pride, but then you come on a podcast to talk about that. So like, yeah, I’m not all.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: First. I bet you’re on a queer podcast about it.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: Well, that’s also a way of, you know, giving banks for for that. You know, I feel that that idea to of like, oh, the person I used to be sometimes almost feels like I don’t know, like someone I read a book about or like a character I saw on a TV show. But I am like, I can’t even remember that. I know I remember that mindset, but like, I can’t feel it anymore, thank goodness. And then sometimes there are like these moments in life where, I don’t know, all you can do is sort of give thanks because the work that you’re doing now.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: Right, is so informed by that. And and as much as I think we often feel swallowed up, right. I definitely relate to that, like having a difficult twenties and, you know, really struggling with mental health and and those things feel really isolating and you feel really like, oh my gosh, I’m the odd one out in the whole world. Right? And then when when we get to the other side, I don’t know, there’s this kind of clarity of like, oh, no, it’s actually like a lot of people, but you can speak directly to that feeling. And that’s like, you know, there’s a little bit of a superpower there. It’s it’s hard earned, but I think it’s so, so important. Yeah. Yeah. So it’s like, thank you for being so like, okay, that just really elegant about that. I just find it so moving.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: Tell us about your decision to go to Kalamazoo Pride. Like when did you hear about it? How did you prepare? How did you decide to go?
Speaker 6: Yeah, this is a really last minute thing. I have been so fortunate to have fallen into the running community here in Grand Rapids. It’s incredible. And some of my greatest friends have come from it. And I have a new friend, Paul. He he grew up in Kalamazoo and he’s trained for a similar distance of a marathon right now. And so we’ve been doing a lot of long runs together. And in those long runs you just start chatting and you get to know each other. And he was like, Hey, you know, why would you want to go check out Kalamazoo Pride? I got some friends that are going he identifies as straight and he’s like, You know, they’re all going to be straight, but maybe you’d want to go. And I was like, Yeah, you know, I’ve never been and I’m planning to go to Grand Rapids. I would love to just see what it’s like. And I don’t really I didn’t really know Paul very well at the time. I think we had only been running for a couple of weeks, but I was just like, I feel like I’m meant to go do this with Paul specifically, just based on some conversations that we had.
Speaker 6: And so we drove. It’s about 45 minutes from where I live in Grand Rapids, and we drove down together, had an awesome chat, and it was just such a cool experience. His friends were amazing and they included me instantly. And for someone with a lot of anxiety and social anxiety that it was like that was to go say yes. To go do that was like, I know I needed yeah, I know I need to do this, but I’m also like kind of like, I don’t know what, you know, what’s going to happen. And so it was cool to face the fear and show up and then also just be so welcomed by everybody too.
Bryan Lauter: What were the events like in Kalamazoo? What what what does pride mean there exactly?
Speaker 6: Kalamazoo was kind of like a mini version of Grand Rapids, and Grand Rapids is like a mini version of Detroit, you know? So we’re just like layers. Yeah. So it was small. It was very small. But they had downtown, they had a stage set up and kind of everything kind of roped off and gated off and vendors food, they were they were doing different entertainment. Some stand up comedy were drag queens performing, which was incredible. And then some of the local bars and restaurants were also participating. So you could kind of like venture in and out throughout the the event, too.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: What did you wear?
Speaker 6: Yeah, this is a nice thing. It caused me some anxiety because he had asked me that morning, do you want to go? And I was just like, Oh, I don’t have an outfit. But I put I put an outfit together. I was wearing some corduroy overalls and I’m trying to be like, cool, if you will. So I’m an elder millennial, but I’m here. Yeah. Showing up. I wore our quarter overalls. I wore my rainbow these bombas rainbow socks with some white sneakers. And then I got a just a flat bale hat that was Rainbow is a Cityscape of Denver. I put it together quick. I made a tic tac about it and then I went down. But for my my Grand Rapids experience, I was a little bit more thoughtful with my outfit, which is actually tomorrow, Saturday. I’m really, really excited about that.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: Well, tell us about that outfit.
Speaker 6: I went with the overall theme. Yeah, but these are shorts. So overall shorts, they are not corduroy, but they are all white with the the straps actually have rainbows on them. So just a nice, nice touch of the rainbows. I’m going to rock the bombas socks again. Maybe a different version since they have different patterns. And then I’m going to I’m going to go with some fun space buttons and then my friend is going to help me with some like gems. And then I make up, we’ve got a couple of inspo inspo inspired fun, rainbow eye makeup and eyeliner and white sneakers. Of course, I’m going to go with like, you know, the whole white out thing. So yeah, it’s going to be fun.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: And so when you went to the Kalamazoo Pride event, what was that like, the most gay people you had? Ever been around in one space at once?
Speaker 6: Yes.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: It was.
Bryan Lauter: What did that feel like? What did that. Yeah.
Speaker 6: Oh, it was. It was so good. I mean, sometimes I still, like, step in and out of this identity, right? I. I think of this former girl that was like. I can’t be this person who I want to be out with my friends. They wouldn’t understand. And I’m. I am dressing the way that I want to dress. I’m I’m saying things that I have never said that, you know, and I’m around all these other people and I’m like, everybody here loves everybody. Like, it doesn’t matter. And I had just gone so many years muting myself and so to just kind of step into that environment, it was just I was like, this is me. This is this is where I belong. And it just felt so good. I mean, it was so much weight off of my chest to just kind of be myself and also kind of beautiful that I went to this Kalamazoo pride with a bunch of people that really don’t know me.
Speaker 6: Sometimes I find that with my older friends, which I love them dearly, they’ve accepted me, they love me, I still find myself acting kind of how I did pre coming out because yeah, there’s this identity that I had with them which is still part of me, right? But it’s not fully me. I’m a I’m very there’s something else kind of happening and evolving within me and I’m like, I just get to kind of be around these people that have no idea who I am and I get to just be myself without actually thinking, Oh, my gosh, am are they thinking about this? Oh, because she’s gay now she does this or blah blah blah seems used to do this, but now she’s this way. And it was just like all of that just went away and it just kind of made me feel free, which was amazing.
Bryan Lauter: Uh, that sounds. That sounds so.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: Wonderful. Did you, like, get emotional at all? I’m just getting emotional hearing about how I’m feeling.
Bryan Lauter: Yeah. Now I’m like. I’m like a little checked out.
Speaker 6: Yes. It didn’t hit me at first. A lot of these emotions, a lot of big things in my life sometimes take a minute for me to register like what is how what is like is this is reality. Sometimes I feel like I’m living a dream. I get a little choked up about it to myself. But I went home and I was like, I love Paul. It was like, I’ve known Paul for like five weeks and this man is just he’s been such a blessing in my life and the last couple weeks just put me in situations that I just, like, need I needed. I needed it to be pushed into. And his friends were amazing. And I just yeah, I cry sometimes when I think about it because it’s, it’s happy tears, right. But it’s also there’s a little bit of a grieving part, too, and sadness of just going so long, not feeling this free.
Bryan Lauter: I think we should declare Paul our official prime, straight, straight guy for the podcast. I’m a I’m in love with Paul, too.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: So this is really interesting. I was actually talking with my wife about this last night where I was basically like preparing for this interview and asking like, what would you want to know from somebody who just went to their first pride? And she was like, ask if she went with straight people. Because now sometimes when I go to Pride, I’m like, all these straight people are taking up so much room here, but.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: What are some.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: Of my first Pride events? I took my straight friends because I didn’t have queer friends yet. And like, I actually feel really grateful for those people who were okay with like coming with me to an event. And then also what if I started making out with somebody leaving and like not making.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: Me feel weird.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: About the fact that, like, I abandoned them at Pride, you know? And I actually think it’s really important to be able to, you know, not all queer people have queer friends to go with to pride. So straight people have a role there, too.
Speaker 6: I have some queer friends now and and it’s been great to kind of like make new ones, but I still have a lot of straight friends, kind of like what you said. And they, they, they’re so cute. They’ve been like, how can we support you and make sure this is the best experience for you? And I was like, just show up as yourself and express yourself in the way that you love to be. And that’ll make me happy. Like that’s what pride is all about. And it’s so, it’s just so cool. Yeah. I mean, in hindsight, it was funny. Someone was like, Hey, how is Kalamazoo pride? And I was like, What? Was really fun? But I was with all straight people. And then I like immediately I stopped myself and I was like, You know what? That didn’t feel right to say, like, who cares if they’re all straight? I still had amazing time and they welcomed me and it was me inside that was having some insecurity that I still was like with straight people, not gay people. And I wasn’t being my full gay self.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: But also.
Speaker 6: Like but.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: If time, you know, that was your first time, like who knows what your next one will be like?
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: Well, that’s the question.
Bryan Lauter: What’s what is going to happen in Grand Rapids? What are you what are you going to you.
Speaker 6: Know, I’m going wild.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: That.
Speaker 6: This will be so, so fun because I have friends from different areas of life and different times of my life. And they’re all going to kind of show. Up sporadically, which is really cool. So I’ve got. Yeah. Yeah. College friends coming out, new friends that you know are part of my running group and then. Yeah. Just sprinkled all over. So my, my plan is to just kind of flow. I live downtown, which is just steps away from where the events taking place. I just said, Hey, anybody and everybody, if you want to come over to my place first, we can get the makeup on and hang out, have some drinks, whatever, walk over. And then just there’s entertainment going on from like noon until I think 9 p.m.. So we’ll just kind of flow through the event. If we want to come back to my place and hang out, we can. But yeah, just, just kind of like letting myself just enjoy the moment and not put myself in like any time frame or agenda or anything like that.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: Are you going with any sort of desire to meet new people or mostly hang out with your friends?
Speaker 6: I want to meet new people. I have I’ve met some some of the other queer community in Grand Rapids. But no, I don’t have many queer friends. And I’m just like excited to to meet people and talk to people and just kind of connected at a different level. I assume that there’s going to be a lot of people and even if there aren’t, you know, it’s there’s going to be some people down there that I’ve never met and I’m just excited about that energy.
Bryan Lauter: You’ve talked a little bit about this already, but but I wanted to ask you, when Christina introduced the show earlier, she said that we were going to talk about what is the value of pride or what is what is what is good about going to it? Why why do we even care? Right. I’m wondering what you think now as you’re going through this, this season, what is the value of pride to you? And if you sort of if you’re trying to convince someone else to come to it for their first time with you, what would you say to them?
Speaker 6: I think the value to me is just finally being able to express myself wholly and authentically and show up in a space where other people are doing the same. No matter how you identify, no matter you’re straight, you’re gay. Like you just can come and enjoy and be and also learn about the culture a little bit further.
Speaker 6: Like I said, I think I had just lost blinders on for so many years and there’s so much more history and things that people went through before myself and I’m so thankful to be living at this time where this is becoming more accepted and there is, you know, a greater voice and love being spread throughout the community. But it wasn’t always like that. And I don’t want to be that new gay that’s just running around being like, Oh, I’m free. This is great. Without understanding what what it took to get here, to be great and loving and wonderful. And so that’s what it really means to me and just connecting with people. I absolutely love learning from people. I’m curious about humans and their stories and just making new friends.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: Oh, I guess I did have one more question. Just if there is any specific person you saw or a moment you experience that kind of stuck out to you or or stayed with you.
Speaker 6: I think seeing all the couples, it really gave me all the feeling I’m not going to lie. I, I just got I just can’t get out of a relationship. So I haven’t heartbroken, which is, okay, it’s fine. I will be okay. But just seeing people in public, queer relationships holding hands like kissing each other if they’d like to. It’s something I always had in my head of like, Oh, I wish I could do that. And I always told myself, Well, you’re never going to. And just seeing that people can do that in public safely and openly was like, it just it made me happy. It gave me hope. I’m like, I know love is out there. It’s possible. And it’s also possible to share with whoever you want to as well.
Bryan Lauter: Sammy, thank you so, so much for joining us today to talk about this. You’re just you’re a delight. And I’m so happy that you’re getting to experience pride this year. And I think Grand Rapids is going to be a great success.
Speaker 6: Yeah. Thank you guys for having me.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: So it was such a treat to get to talk with Sammie about her first pride experience. And like we said, you know, the three of us have kind of been reflecting on what’s that this year? Are the vibes off? Is it you know, is it the pandemic pandemic thing for so long? Is it the, you know, that little rising tide of fascism all around the country or and this would surely be much more disturbing, you know, are we just getting old? I don’t mean, you know, I don’t want that.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: Theory to rest.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: Eternal youth eternally. I just mean, are we getting older in the sense of has it been so many years since our first pride that we’re, you know, becoming as perhaps notable gay podcast host might become a little jaded? I’m so glad we’re going to have this conversation about our experiences after talking with Sammy, because I feel like everyone’s first pride is actually always different. And even the idea of what first pride is for could be different. And maybe all of us have like different first pride, even in our own lives.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: For me, I can name multiple first pride, the literal first one I ever went to. Then the first one I went to, you know, with one identity. And then the first one I went to again when I, you know, started transitioning. And they were all at different times in different places and a different moments in my life. And just there, it already starts to become kind of a a complicated tapestry. I want to just kind of just do a little bit of storytelling here because I also think maybe listeners want to know and want to imagine sort of like, did you ever watch Baby Muppets? You know, it’s like you got babies. Yes. Muppet babies. Sorry, babies. Right. So if we want to imagine outward baby. Oh, I got the baby. So funny. I loved.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: That show.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: Shrink the puppet version of Jewel’s Down and you get a little story, right? My most recent first pride was in in New York City. You know, not that long ago, first week I started hormones. And the first time I was willing to walk in Dyke March and kind of spilled out into Washington Square Park with all my friends and had a kind of lightning rod moment of looking around the park and being like, Oh, my God, lesbians are so hot. That was a great.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: But if I rewind the tape a little further, think back to what my actual first pride was when I was probably 19 years old. I was in college in Canada and I went down to Toronto with a couple of friends for the weekend to go to probably the biggest pride in Canada. Canada already had same sex marriage, so we were already in that era. Kind of act like old news. Yes, it’s old news. This bank is just, you know, trying to get our money, but we’re in college going to have any money jokes on them.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: But, you know, I felt really uncomfortable the whole time. I felt really scared. I felt really intimidated. And I had this kind of just intense emotional reaction. Everywhere I went, I was with a bunch of boys, and at the time I was trying to reconcile how I was supposedly also a fresh young thing myself, a fresh young Twinkie boy. I just remember going around and seeing especially like fanboys or like fem queens and other gay boys of color who are embracing their bodies, you know, who weren’t wearing a lot of clothes or who are wearing makeup or who were, you know, wearing heels and just, like living their lives in such a kind of freedom and feeling, obviously. Now, I understand, really intimidated and resentful and jealous, but experiencing that at the time as as all I could understand, it was like a kind of fear and sort of like, I don’t know about this. I don’t feel right. I just feel really out of place. And of course, I thought it was my fault and I felt really embarrassed.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: And then, you know, here’s the full circle moment. We went to the date march. I had this sort of premonition, eerie moment that now feels really different when I think about my later, you know, New York pride moment where, you know, it was it was the dykes on bikes, you know, who walked in the beginning. Right. And so it’s like all these motorcycle touches or literally or I mean, they’re engines. And I was like, I, I, I, this is above my pay grade. My whole life broke. Like, my nervous system was like, Girl, you are in trouble. You need to make different decisions in your life and everything you’re doing doesn’t make sense. But of course, I was too young and no one was explaining all of that to me. And I was with a bunch of very lovely but kind of clueless boys. And so I just remember like feeling.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: Terrible.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: And kind of being disgruntled. And at the time it was really easy for me to be like, Well, you know what? Corporate pride is nasty, and Canada is just this silly liberal settler colony that, like, often quashes itself by having gay marriage. And so I tried to be like, I’m just a good leftist, actually, I don’t like pride, but the truth was I was dysphoric as fuck. Right? And I think back on. Right. And I just think back on how, you know, all these years later, when I end up transitioning, I felt like a baby again. But the vibe was really different because the like I felt like a baby, but like a happy baby. Right? It’s like pride number one in Toronto and the crying baby throwing a tantrum.
Bryan Lauter: Here.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: In New York. I’m like a happy, happy baby playing. That, I guess, is sort of one way I would tell the story of my first pride’s. But for me, it’s sort of this interesting mixed bag of like, you know, that kind of intersection between, like, where I am in my life, where I am in my body, where other queer people are in space, and then like what pride meant in the world at that time. And actually, just like that’s a lot of threads that people have to figure out how to weave.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: I’ll tell mine. Go ahead. My first pride was in DC in 2011, so I was I guess I had graduated college the year before and had come out in college, but, you know, still didn’t have a queer community in D.C.. And I went to Pride with my boyfriend at the time who was trans still. It was trans. He’s trans and feeling like surprised at how self-conscious I was that it looked like I was in a straight couple and feeling like it’s my first pride. And yet I’m not sure if people here can even tell I’m queer. And it was so important to me to, like, be recognized as queer for the first time because.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: Logical. Yeah, yeah. I was like, femme again. Still am. I don’t know why I’m talking about all of our identities in the past. And like I said, didn’t really have a queer community, so wasn’t in place as a lot where I could really feel seen and recognized and have that back and forth sort of visual discourse with people that was like, I’m part of this community. You are too. Here we all are together.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: I was kind of like, Does everyone feel like I’m an interloper here? And so I was a little bit more trapped in my head than I think I would have liked. But I do remember feeling the same way actually Sammie felt, which was that, Oh my God, I’ve never seen so many queer people in the same place at once. And I had been to, you know, some gay bars or dyke bars, but they were kind of small. And also it’s like a certain kind of people go to a certain kind of bar to meet a certain kind of people and queer parties, they all have their own little feelings in that term, right? It really was everyone who came out, including people who don’t go to bars and parties.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: So older queers, young queer and trans kids, people who came to D.C. from West Virginia or rural Maryland and really were like from a different queer culture than I was aware of, even from different parts of D.C.. I feel like the culture that I was aware of was very white, and at DC Pride it was like all kinds of people came out and there was like the like black trans drill team and the like, gay marching band for all, like the huge nerds. I ate too much of a weed chocolate and ended up getting really disoriented by the end of it. But for the part that I.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: Yeah, yeah. Chinnery town for anyone’s first pride. It was overwhelming to me in a good way where I felt like. It was a little bit of a corrective. To the sense that, oh, everyone sort of must feel the way I feel or everyone. This is the kind of day that I’m coming into when everyone else I can sort of projects that onto everyone else and understand what their experiences like. It was like, Oh no, there’s like a shitload of us here and we’re all super different and are brought together by this sense of Let’s show each other who we are.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: It actually ended up being a really like a catalyzing moment for me, actually finding my queer community, which was happened in kind of a roundabout way where I decided to write an essay for the local gay blog about my first pride. And again, like I did write about the invisibility feeling and like, was it cool of me to, like, make my boyfriend’s trans experience all about myself in this essay? Like, no. But that piece did end up catching the eye of the guy who’s now like one of my best friends in DC. And he was like, I have this blog for like trans people and queer women and like, you should write for that instead of this gay man blog. And I was like, Cool.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: Let me do that.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: And that’s like how I met my queer family in DC and actually how I ended up meeting my wife too. And it also outed me to some of my extended family members who found the link and like created some productive conflict within my own family and sort of forced me to be like. Why are you upset that I wrote about my queerness in a public space? Perhaps you need to look inside yourself and realize that straight people write about their love lives all the time and they’re sexualized all the time. And so it’s not unseemly that I do the same and like, I’m not going to talk to you until you have something better to say about that.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: And so actually, my I when I think back to my first pride, it was almost its catalyzing effects that had more of an impact on me than the actual event itself. But I also think it speaks to how powerful that gathering of people can be, because it can generate feelings in you just seeing that many different kinds of people in one place that can then affect how you interact with your like queerness or transness in the rest of life.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: Brian, what about you? What was your first pride like?
Bryan Lauter: So I was thinking about this and I had like Jules, I think I had sort of two different ones that stuck out, one that was not very important or catalyzing, and one that really was the first true pride that I attended, I think it was 2009. And I went with the Columbia University contingent. And mainly what I remember about it is it being extremely hot and just waiting on one of those weird side streets, like in the thirties forever to step off just like like our our little floater. I don’t know if we had a float. It was probably just us, like, on the street with our Columbia banner or something. Just like waiting for, like, 4 hours.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: And we got to class.
Bryan Lauter: Step off and then. Yeah, and then to then to walk the eight miles or whatever down to to I guess I went to Stonewall and to the, to the pier.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: That 18 miles. Yeah. Was like it was just so far.
Bryan Lauter: It felt so.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: Far. Rama.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: Were you wearing uncomfortable shoes or something?
Bryan Lauter: I wasn’t just like full twink, no. Then so probably was just sneakers. I don’t know. There are pictures. I was wearing a blue polo. I don’t really, really remember connecting with any kind of larger feeling of like community or whatever. It was just this sort of strange parade that that I was in. The one the pride that the other first pride that really sticks out to me, there was something that really was kind of life changing was the first time I went to the New York Drag March, Drag Marches, this alt pride event that happens usually on the Friday before the main one. And it was started in 1994, I believe, by Gilbert Baker, who is the guy who made the Rainbow Flag and Brian Griffin.
Bryan Lauter: It’s actually like a protesting against the the main parade, which this was. This is the year of the 25th anniversary of Stonewall. And they had said that they did not want leather people or drag queens. And the main parade is like a respectable God. And so that pissed off a lot of folks, obviously. And so Gilbert Baker and Brian Griffin decided to do this alternative pride.
Bryan Lauter: The vibe at the beginning, I was looking this up earlier, the vibe. The beginning was very sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. If people know that group based out of San Francisco, it’s a drag group, but they dress in none sort of attire, partially to protest the Catholic Church, but other things as well. And they did a lot of service work. They’re fantastic people. So that was sort of the the beginning of it. And then it became over the years, more radical, fairy inflected.
Bryan Lauter: And now it’s this wonderful mishmash of like queer pagan ritual and Sisters of Perpetual and Providence drag that when I say drag, the drag is very hodgepodge. It’s not like professional drag in most cases. It’s sort of very just like whatever you put on is fine. And it goes from Tompkins Square Park over to Stonewall. It’s not permitted. Usually it’s it’s sort of a real grassroots parade in that way. And at the end, everyone gathers around the Stonewall and sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow a cappella. Which never ceases to make me cry. I just just weep because it’s so it’s just this this like there’s a lot of energy there. We all like it. And it’s being celebrated, I think, in a good way and proper way and that.
Bryan Lauter: But I remember going to that, being very afraid and nervous about it because it was a type of queer or lots of types of queer people that I had not really been around before. And my partner Cam had and sort of said, we should go do this. But I went I wore a jean skirt and a little a little pink. A little pink, a sort of cami that’s just across the front of it that I had time.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: And was it D or.
Bryan Lauter: No, it was. It was definitely. And I think I think I got it at Strawberry. Is that a store?
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: Oh, yes.
Bryan Lauter: That a.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: Great reference.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: I love that you went for a skort like not ready for a skirt, but.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: I want to non-binary garment. Exactly. Men. Yeah, I know.
Bryan Lauter: And I think I wear actual hills, too. I believe that was the year I went to and found found the size of proteins that I needed. So I did it. And I remember walking in that parade being at first very nervous. But at some point, really just being like, this is what queerness should look like. Like, this is what I’ve been looking for and want more of, like in myself and in my life. So anyway, that’s the energy of it. It’s very playful, it’s transgressive, it’s a little combative. It’s like it’s it’s just a different kind of pride. And so ever since then, that is my pride like that as my, you know, I might go to other things, but that drag march on Friday is, is, is, for all intents and purposes, like my, my pride celebration.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: I love all of these stories. I think they speak to, again, just the sheer range of what pride? Yes. Obviously, pride started, you know, as the Christopher Street Liberation Day, you know, started as a commemoration of our riot against the police. All right. Should we be out writing again today, listeners? Emily, leave that to you. But, you know, I think one of the things I’m also hearing as a theme and maybe this connects to what Sammy was talking to us a little bit about earlier, is this kind of very like queer feeling of like things like part of what pride does is it like pulls you in to situations that you were just, like, both desiring but like totally afraid of. Yeah.
Bryan Lauter: And then yeah.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: The first time. And they just seem so surreal and like that kind of like, I can’t believe this. Right. But then. But then they’re not. And that’s actually, like, really good, right? It’s like the things that, like, used to be so hard now seem, like, hilariously normal. And, like, I’m pleased, right? It’s like. Right. It’s like if you go to pride in part because you can take advantage of this being a safer, louder kind of space, especially in big cities, you can kind of enjoy that feeling of like, well, if a million people are doing that right, I’m not whatever fears I have, whatever lightning bolt I think is going to come down from the sky and strike me down, won’t even be able to find me in the throng so I can do it. But then over time, it’s like it builds up your courage. Yeah, right. And it allows you to live more bombastic however you want to live your life. Right? Or at least it seems like it has done that for all of us.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: But then one of the funny side effects of that is that over time that it doesn’t seem like as big of a deal anymore. And maybe that’s a good thing, right? But it is this kind of feeling of like the strangeness of just like I won’t say aging because it’s a violent word, like growing and growing up as queer and trans people, right? It’s like they get used to ourselves. And I think that it’s like it’s something I think about all the time, you know, because like for trans affects, especially when people are, you know, as we say, eggs and their eggs just hatched and they’re like, okay, admit it. Like, I’m trans, but I don’t know what I want to do. It’s a really difficult, often really intense and sometimes dangerous time period because you’re like, Well, I’m trans, but I can’t. How could I possibly pull this shit off like this crazy, right? And some things take a long time.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: Right. And I think it’s when you come out, if you are losing a relationship or kinship structure you had, if you’re rejected by family, if you lose a job, if you have to move, there is are these ways that like the gay life is about having to start over at different points. And that’s really hard. And I do feel like these kinds of rituals also, you know, whatever their origins are also about, like giving us what we need in the moment, but then maybe in the best of circumstances, right? Like our lives are not so lucky afterwards and like we’re, we’re a little bit more, okay.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: I no longer go to like the Pride Parade or the Pride Festival or there’s parties that I go to that are not, you know, officially sanctioned, but are like the big sort of dyke centered parties that happen every year at Pride. I’m always wearing, like, flamboyant clothes. Like, I’m not shy about myself in real life, you know, I’m on a fricking queer podcast, too.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: But there’s something.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: About Pride Weekend that emboldens me even further. Maybe like more even than I should be, where I’m like, This is our city. This is our weekend. I’m like, sometimes, like, not afraid of, like, getting catcalled or stared at, like, my friends and I. Now for the third year, we this year rented a like 50 person boat that is captained by like an old grizzled sea captain on the Potomac. And like, my God, I doubt that any of, like, either the grizzled sea captain or the person who runs the bar on the boat have ever experienced the like queer and trans and scantily clad charter vibe that we bring to the boat.
Bryan Lauter: But like. But. What a blessing.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: I think now that we’ve been doing it for three years, it’s like they know us. It was very cute this year. The captain, you know, gives a short safety briefing at the beginning of the boat ride. And he was like, well, there’s two bathrooms. The boats, we call them the head, they’re they’re not anything.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: Anyone can go into any one. Just go in, do your thing and get out. Just don’t flush paper towels down the toilet. Oh, good. I’m like, you couldn’t come up.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: With the word gender, but you knew what you were saying.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: And I’m just, you.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: Know, we all showed up at, like, the ritzy, like, waterfront area of D.C. at like 11:30 a.m. on the Sunday of pride looking bedraggled, but also wearing like, you know, pasties and thongs and or that was just me. But like and other people were wearing other things.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: And just sort of like what we’re going.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: On our pride boat, you know, I dare anyone to stare or to say anything or like, you know, I just feel extra entitled, I guess, during pride to be able to feel like, I don’t know, I don’t I care a lot less during pride than I do the rest of the year. What people think of when they look at me and I think everyone kind of gets the message to at least in D.C. and probably other big cities where it’s like this, clearly not in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where like you all have Nazis came in, disrupted pride. But like that is one of the biggest things that I look forward to, every pride still, you know, even in my slightly more self-confident thirties.
Bryan Lauter: I have actually and high interest in attending the main pride in New York. Not so much, because I have like objections to it, although I do. And we’ve.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: You are though who has to. Yeah. Energy to get to you.
Bryan Lauter: Honestly, that’s where the aging part comes in. For me, it’s just too much. It’s like, too stressful. It’s like the barricades and the whole. Like, it’s it’s just. It is too stressful for me, but. But actually, no, I mean, the drag march continues to be a movement of of kind of queer for me every year that hasn’t faded. I mean, it’s it’s, you know, I feel certainly more, as you were saying, like comfortable now. I don’t feel I’m not stressed about what I’m going to wear. Like am I going to fit in or be accepted? But I still find moments in that where I where I’m like, I don’t know, like where I feel like in tune with with like the queer spirit. I don’t know.
Bryan Lauter: It’s sad in a way that I that I just don’t many other times of the year, there’s only a few maybe at like Radford Sanctuary and stuff like that. But like it’s really, it’s really kind of only there and I and I and I kind of, I hold it a little bit. It’s like a holy day for me, honestly. So that that hasn’t faded even as I’m talking about it now, I’m getting a little bit a little bit of chills.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: There’s a lot of value, even for people who do queer things the rest of the year to really have that one time.
Bryan Lauter: Yeah.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: That everyone sets aside to come out and like be their most and do their thing and have that to look forward to and plan around.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: I’m just thinking about something that we talked a little bit about in our bonus episode about Fire Island just for a moment. You know, like what it means when you get together, you know, just just in the family, right. And, you know, I used that word on purpose because, you know, family is notoriously not homogenous. Don’t get along right. But but there’s something about like, okay, I’m a put my historian’s hat on for a second. Sorry I waited this long an episode today, you know, back in the day, right before the first prize.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: So I’m talking about the 1960s. You know, people used to talk about the gay life, you know, and gay right word that didn’t necessarily mean sexual orientation per se. Right. Lots of people call themselves gay, gay men, lesbians, bitches femmes. Right. But also drag queens, transvestites, trans feminine people. People would call trans women today. And what it meant to be in the gay life meant that you were wearing a badge of stigma in American society in particular, right. Because gay people were seen as effeminate. Gay people are seen as abnormal, as bizarre, as gender atypical, etc..
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: But there were real, substantial material consequences that affected almost everyone at that time. It was very hard to escape them unless you were super closeted. So the gay life really meant like this kind of poor working class life, hidden and criminalized that took place in bars that could be raided any time where walking down the street weighing three items are items of the wrong clothing can get you arrested. We’re being outed in the newspaper was a constant, you know, danger to people who did have good paying jobs.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: Right. And so there’s something about this, like feeling that to me, I understand and totally am on board with all of the anti-capitalist and class critiques of corporate pride, but also how damn fucking expensive the drinks be. Right, you know, shame. But like but also there is this spiritual component that I think we are disallowed from talking about because, you know, homophobia and transphobia like to say that, you know, sexuality and gender are these secular, you know, or.
Bryan Lauter: Right, right.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: Kinds of things. But no, there’s a spirit, there’s a practice, there’s a modality. And it’s like about this thing where you’re like, for this weekend, honey, we own this, okay? We are going to do whatever we want to do. And that might mean that you got to go find your friend at 3 a.m. and they totally took too much and disappeared. And you’re worried about them. And I’m not saying it’s like utopia. It’s not.
Bryan Lauter: Yeah, no paradise.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: On earth. But there is something about that, that power to say that, you know what, for this stretch of time, yeah, we’re going to make this world gay and I’m going to follow my desires, because that is the thing that people have fought for and died for before me and that we will lay on the line for if we have to. Right. I totally think that that kind of entitlement is beautiful because it’s a spiritual entitlement. It’s a message to the world and it says, oh, you don’t even know. You don’t even know. We walk among you every day and we could be running this world for the better. Hey, straight people, you could be going on right as a Potomac Cruise, but you don’t your life size and relatively right. You have kept us out. And so this is how we’re going to remind you that in some ways we do have it better.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: Right. But it’s also this call for what it means to to build world and build community. Right. That I think actually ends up even though it ends up being about things like class and money and certainly ends up being about things like race or. Gender and other social hierarchies. It also is about the promise of something bigger and better than that. Right. And it’s like this promise that we’re going to make it out of this imperfect world. And I just feel like that’s such an enduring message.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: You know, I mean, I was really shook a couple of days ago. It seems that, you know, like truly less than a mile from my house, someone let some pride flags on fire that were being displayed on someone’s home, which is very common in Baltimore all over the place. And like three houses were destroyed. And, like, that’s scary. Like, that’s really scary that what’s happening, you know, what’s happening in Portland, what happened in Drag Queen Story our in the Bay Area. I mean, there have been like at least 12 reported kinds of moments of violence. Not the first year we’ve had that, but it’s like, okay, that’s scary, right? But, you know, I think that more than ever then, you know, this feeling that we’re all kind of speaking to about pride, which is like, Oh, oh, you want to come for us, baby? Watch out. I wouldn’t mess with the gays if I were you. Okay? We were worried about the vibes. I think we were all self-conscious about our own cynicism.
Bryan Lauter: Yeah. Yeah.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: Talking to Sammy and talking to ourselves. I feel like, you know, but we still know. Like, you know, hey, we’re relevant listeners. We’re still plugged in. But also, I think, like, obviously, you know, the meaning of pride changes over time. But clearly, clearly there are some perennial reasons that we are drawn to it, that we come back to it and that maybe, you know, this year more than others, we’re sort of called to reflect back on those core values because you know what? It seems like we’re going to need them. Yeah, a little while especially, but also there’s just so much good in there, you know, and a lot of it does come down to, you know, to thongs and pasty as I have.
Bryan Lauter: Yeah. I want I want us and our listeners to all claim that spiritual entitlement. Yeah. Oh, what a term. What a wonderful phrase. Yeah, that’s. That’s the spirit I’m going into pride with.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: That’s right.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: Listeners, we want to hear all about your Pride plans this year, how you feel about it. We want the vibe check. We want the pictures. You can always find us at outward podcast at Slate.com.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: That’s about it for this month. But before we go, we have some updates for your gay agenda. Brian, what do you have for us?
Bryan Lauter: Okay, I have a little game I think our listeners should participate in and the game is based on this, a really great meme that sort of emerged this pride season in response to all of the brand campaigns that are going around, including the Postmates one. And it’s I think we can call it like the that’s why I’m partnering with Meme or this month I’m partnering with me. I’m sure you’ve seen it. What it does is it sends up gay influencers who often have these really hilarious attempts to, like, merge personal experience with whatever the brand message is. There’s a few. I’ll read a couple of examples in case you haven’t seen this one, and these are rounded up by BuzzFeed. I’ll put this in the show page.
Bryan Lauter: As a gay man growing up, I struggled with coming out to my family, which is why I’m so excited this Pride Month to be partnering with the Olive Garden. Because when you’re here, your family. Let’s see. Oh, as a gay teenager, I never felt like I had the proper tools to succeed. That’s why for this Pride Month, I partnered with Home Depot. So you kind of get the message, oh, this is as good as of has a gay black woman who grew up in a cult. I was afraid to come out of the closet. That’s why this month I’m partnering with IKEA to build my dream closet. So these are great. There’s a there’s been a ton of them on Twitter and whatnot, but I and my partners have taken at home too, just like walking around, coming up with them, like amongst ourselves and just like falling out laughing.
Bryan Lauter: And so my agenda item is just to take this little formula. And and when you’re when you’re just sort of gobsmacked by the insanity of some of these corporate pride campaigns this year, do it. It’s a fun little exercise that works for brand, and it also brings a little capitalist critique into the season. I wrote one for the occasion, and if I may, as a proud, modern, sexual gay man living in a fierce city and the age of our goddess grinder, I have more opportunities to knock the boots house down Henny than I know what to do with. That’s why this month I’m partnering with the Home Depot, where doers get more done.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: Oh, my God. So good.
Bryan Lauter: Thank you. Yeah, yeah, I should. I’ll try it to you for sure.
Bryan Lauter: All right. Christina, what do you have?
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: I want to recommend something that I’ve observed in the wild but don’t have yet for myself. But I plan on obtaining one. It’s a company called Kaftko. That’s Kaftko. It’s a caftan company.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: Oh, yeah.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: My friend wore one of these kaftans on our pride boat this year. She said it got advertised to her on Instagram in an extremely specific and accurate mode of targeting. I fell in love with it. I’m going to get myself one. What I love about these kaftans, which are designed by a gay man named Oday Shekhar. A lot of clothing that’s advertised as gender neutral and marketed to queers is actually just masculine. It’s like button downs and baggy shorts and t shirts. And I feel like it’s kind of a cliche at this point that our, you know, gender neutral future space uniform is just muted neutrals and boxy silhouettes. That’s not what this caftan is. This caftan is flowy. It has an extreme deep V and unlike a lot of these other queer marketed clothing items that only work for like totally flat bodies, this would pretty much fit on any shape of person. In fact, Bare World Magazine called it the perfect non gendered bear friendly caftan.
Bryan Lauter: Yeah, so.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: All of them bears out.
Bryan Lauter: Their endorsement.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: And it’s comes in just a ton of cool patterns. Apparently. The founding designer, Oday Shekhar, had worked in women’s clothing for many years but then wanted to make something that he identified with so bare. World magazine again reports the Kaftan represents his Iraqi roots, the graphic modern prints, his American upbringing. So there’s, you know, a little bit of a personal narrative behind these kaftans. They also make little shorts and little bathing suits. It’s just a very cool queer company and I’m very excited to have a new Beach Kaftan cover up. It’s again called Kaftko with a K.
Bryan Lauter: I’m absolutely getting one. I love nothing more than a beach cover up. Actually, I’m very afraid of. Afraid of the sun. So that’s that’s that’s perfect. Thank you, Christina, for that.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: Jules, what about you?
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: So I just have sort of an open ended suggestion. You know, maybe maybe summer for a lot of us is a time to catch up on reading. Maybe you have a place to lull of a summer away. And if you do, I was thinking, you know, we’re living through one of these weird moments where they’re at it again, folks, they’re Ben in the books. Maybe they never stop, but there are a lot of LGBT books being banned in local jurisdictions around the country and sometimes at the state level. And I thought like, well, you know. Sometimes it’s like, well, if you’re banning the book, honey, I want to find out what the tea is. And a lot of them are are I’m noticing very on trend are like Y.A. books and things that definitely just seem like delightful summer reads.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: So my recommendation is just like read a banned LGBT book this month but everyone you want, you know, if you just I like not going to give you my personal recommendations. Just Google LGBT band books like you’ll find a lot of lists, right? And a lot of them are like bestsellers, too. Maybe you’ve already read them, but if you haven’t, I just feel like it’s a great opportunity to read something. But also, maybe I think there’s something just so instructive about sitting down and reading a book that’s been banned because often times it’s just like, Oh, okay, so you really just hate us, don’t you? Because it’s like, you know, so so that that’s my recommendation. I feel like it’s a way to both unwind and also politically educate. And isn’t it nice when you can do both at the same time? I’m a high fan, so let me just say, anytime I can be in a reclined pain, which is what nature let’s let’s say it again naturally selected my body for I know that that’s really where I do my best political work.
Christina Ricci, Christina Cutter: Well, that’s it for our special Pride Month episode. I’m sad that it’s coming to an end, but this was so much fun. Listeners, you can always send us your feedback and ideas at outward podcast at Slate.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter at Slate. Outward June Thomas is our producer and the grand marshal of our very first Pride Parade. If you like outward, which you do, please subscribe in your podcast app, tell your friends about it and review it, help other people find it. We’ll be back in your feeds next week with our final Pride Month special episode.
Jules Gail, Jules Gil: He chose by Brian. They are having fried steak.