Love Letter on Pride

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Pride goeth before the fall. Doesn’t that sounds like some botched Bible quote? Well, It’s not. It’s Jay Z riffing off a widely sprayed aphorism. Pride and fall being almost synonymous. So why did the the gay rights movement choose Pride as their mascot?

Obviously, there’s the stigma and harsh judgment many LGBTQ folk still live with, the need to combat shame through self-acceptance and bold expressions of pride. But I wonder what else pride of self invites in how we think about and relate to our sexuality?

This morning, I heard Elizabeth Gilbert speaking with her bestie, Oprah, about her new book. You’ve probably seen headlines celebrating City of Girls. It centers on the lives of promiscuous showgirls and dancers from the 30s-50s. Bad girls. Elizabeth speaks about interviewing a 90+ year old woman who still lived in the same apartment she first moved into when she arrived in NYC. Elizabeth was on eggshells, not wanting to offend the old woman, but she also wanted to ask about sex back then. So instead she asked the dancer if she regretted being single and never having kids? Hell no! The answer shot back...Can you imagine fucking the same man every night?

Sexual pride is so far from the messaging most of us received about our bodies and their carnal hungers, that we often expect fire and brimstone when someone shows pride in who they were born to be. Her fall is near, we secretly believe. Because good girls don’t give into feral desire. Because no decent person dare covet their own sex. How puzzling and contrarian—in our milieu and deep conditioning—for anyone to practice pride.

Pride. Who would we each be, liberated with full sexual pride? How would we dare differently and maybe more boldly?

I love the splashy celebration of Gay Pride. And I get it, Stonewall’s resistance turns 50 this year. But I think in our commercial-Santafication of LGBTQ rights, we sometimes miss the point. True pride surely begins with liberating your own sexuality? Accepting what is our most human and creative life force—our sexuality. Because I just can’t see how a sexually repressed “good girl” could ever fully honour her LGBTQ friends, without freeing herself first. Put it this way. The corrective rapes and persecution of homosexual bodies in South Africa, Uganda or the US has more to do with the violators’ sexual repression and stunted power than anything shiny and feathery around a vogueing queen.

As a woman raised to be the epitome of a good girl, I should know. Nothing empowering comes from denying yourself, from burying your primal pleasures. Good girls suffer in a different kind of closet. So maybe in celebrating queer pride, we actually liberate all of us. Go ahead and cross those legs, sit all ladylike if you please. But honey—leave nothing of the good girl in you.

Makhene