USING MY PRIVILEGE TO AMPLIFY QUEER AND TRANS VOICES
My coming out story is pretty uneventful. I didn’t ever feel like I had to hide who I was from the people I loved, I didn’t hesitate to tell my mom that a woman from work asked me out on a date and I never felt that I didn’t have every right to be who I am. This is a privilege that I am deeply grateful for, but I also don’t believe in rewarding people for doing the bare minimum, or doing what they should be doing (like being accepting or picking up after themselves).
When I was in my early 20’s, I was medium proud. I felt a part of the queer community because, well, I was queer, but I wasn’t thinking about getting married or having a family, so the things that we were fighting for at that time didn't really affect me. I certainly didn’t have a fire in my belly regarding LGBTQIA+ rights.
In 2012, I had the idea to start a blog dedicated to the LGBTQIA+ wedding community - there were not a ton of resources and there certainly wasn’t much that felt, aesthetically, like something I’d want to use if I were to ever get married. It felt exciting, building something for my community. The site grew out of a love for my community and a realization that I could advocate for them, even if it was through wedding planning resources. I realized that I had the power to vet vendors who were listed with me to ensure that couples would have positive experiences on their wedding days (even if it wasn’t legal at the time).
Once same-sex marriage was legalized, I had been working on H&H for a few years and I felt less and less enthusiastic about things. I couldn’t put my finger on it until last year I wrote a scathing review of the behaviors of cishet people during pride month. I just needed to get it all off of my chest.
What I realized is that I was fucking pissed.
Working in the wedding industry, things are pretty heteronormative and exceedingly white - it is my least favorite thing about the industry. But what I found was that cishet white women were going on and on about “inclusion” and “diversity” and labeling themselves “pros” and "industry leaders.” I was livid. If you are an ally, your job in supporting the community is to use your privilege to amplify queer and trans voices, specifically those of black and brown folx. Also, pay these people! Hire them to be the experts on their own lived experiences rather than seeing things through your own lens. But that was not happening. Instead, these “pros” were profiting off of experiences that they only knew peripherally.
I felt tokenized, even by people I had considered friends and I was 1000% over it.
My pride story is one of rebelling against the consumerism and tokenization of the community that I love. My pride story is me, recognizing when brands and businesses are using queer folx as marketing tools, as pawns in their pride campaigns. My pride story is me realizing that I might be queer, but I am white and cisgender and can pass as straight and all of those combined are huge privileges that I can use to support black and brown LGBTQIA+ people. And my pride story is realizing that I can do all of this without blasting it on social media for praise. (I fully realize that this is ironic if my story gets published.)
Coming to terms with the fact that I am part of a marginalized community of people who are being profited off of by cisgender hetro women who call themselves “allys” has been tremendously eye opening and I am most proud of my resistance to their bullshit white saviorism and performative allyship for financial gain. As a white woman, I think sometimes I tend to think “it’s coming from a good place, their intentions are good.” But that is complete and utter crap that I will not associate with. And I am proud of that.