On Pride: Alice Sparkly Kat
“Your own queerness is not something that you can be excluded from. Celebrate it in the way you want to.”
As we at NAB celebrate 2021 Pride—as California begins to open up, and we start to find our footing in these long-anticipated after-times—we caught up with North Atlantic authors to ask how they’re marking the month this year. They passed along their queer reading, art, and audio recs, and explored what Pride means (or doesn’t mean) to them; how community evolved during lockdown; experiences and insights from 2020 that are worth bringing forward; and words of love and support for those who aren’t out—or don’t have the ability to be out—right now. Read on below for the Q&A with Alice Sparkly Kat, author of Postcolonial Astrology: Reading the Planets Through Capital, Power, and Labor.
What does Pride mean to you? How do you celebrate?
Pride is when my friends look their cutest, when kind of everyone dyes their hair, when we’re reminded that we have community and that queers look like all types of people. It also tends to be when corporations start selling ugly rainbow merch, when queers have a lot of internal discourse around the politics of pride, and when a lot of folks feel a lot of social anxiety.
Do you have any thoughts on ways queer people can support each other this Pride month, as we navigate the ways the pandemic is changing and the tolls it's taken?
Honestly, I think a lot of queer people have been feeling excluded from Pride for a long time now. Pride is often hard to navigate for disabled people, autistic people, or anyone who feels a lot of fear around being visible in a public space. Fear has always been a part of Pride but being queer is yearlong and not limited to just June. Make yourself comfortable enough to play during Pride. Being comfortable enough to play takes a lot—it’s not spontaneous for most queer people. I myself don’t usually go out to the parades because I have a terror of crowds but I like to tell my friends who do want to go out that they look cute in their outfits. It makes me happy when other people are happy.
What about queer people who aren’t out yet, or who aren’t able to be out this year because they’ve returned home for the pandemic—do you have any thoughts or wisdom you’d want to extend to them?
A lot of queer people have been feeling trapped in families this year. This can make the fomo of Pride especially hard to navigate. But you won’t lose your community being away for a year. Your own queerness is not something that you can be excluded from. Celebrate it in the way you want to. It doesn’t have to be through Pride. Celebrate your queerness everyday and not just June. If you have to live in a closet, make that closet as spacious and luxurious and glamorous as possible.
What did community look like for you over the past year, as many of us sheltered in place? Are there elements, practices, or connections you want to bring forward?
I’ve been quarantined with my four roommates all pandemic. When the numbers are low, we can go hang out with certain people in our “pods.” Community for me, before the pandemic, was my job. I was going into immigrant communities and working with teens and old folks. Being grounded more in my neighborhood means that I’ve been confronting my own role in community as a gentrifier/settler/immigrant and not as a worker. A lot of queer communities are also gentrifying communities and a lot of queer people are also being displaced by gentrification. I think that the pandemic revealed a lot that will be felt this year during Pride. In many ways, Pride itself exists as a gentrified space—another reason why I don’t really go. But I like to support my friends who do go and claim joy and space there.
Are there any queer authors, teachers, movies, or artists, that you think people could enjoy or support this Pride month (and every month)?
Everyone should go and listen to Tough Gossamer’s new EP. Christopher Marmolejo of @theredread has an intersectional tarot course coming out and they’re coming in with years of teaching in critical theory. Those are the things I’ve been most excited about.