On Pride: Jonathon Stalls
“[Pride is] being in love with and awake to how I feel, how I want to express myself, and how I ache to move through relationships and the world.”
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 unabridged Q&A with Jonathon Stalls, author of Walking as Waking Up, forthcoming in 2022.
What does Pride mean to you? How do you celebrate?
- Being in love with and awake to how I feel, how I want to express myself, and how I ache to move through relationships and the world.
- Being in love with how others express who they are and how they ache to move through the world.
- Dancing and deeply/playfully connecting with other queer/lgbtqia2s+ loved ones, people. These spaces nourish my ability to more freely and fully express closeness and connection to my husband. They are really important spaces for me, for us.
- As someone who generally wears more subtle earth tone clothing, the theme of Pride (which can live well beyond the season) inspires me to bring more color to my appearance.
- Art-making inspired by activism, radical inclusion, radical healing, and radical justice.
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?
Outdoor movement activities/connection, especially with other queer/LGBTQIA2S+ friends. Whether through walking, hiking, biking, swimming, surfing, paddle boarding, playful games in a park, throwing balls/frisbees, or others, movement and connection with spacious skies, a fresh breeze, and breaks under trees can do wonders for the mind, heart and body. I specifically recommend walking (or rolling on a wheelchair) and hiking alongside a flowing creek or stream. It invites unhurried, meditative movement forward next to the sound and wisdom flowing water. There is something so profound to me about our humble, unique bodies moving forward, alongside each other, between the earth and the sky.
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?
I am always encouraging and inviting movement, nature, and art as a way of finding connection, affirmation, creativity, and nourishment. There is so much in nature that, to me, wants to affirm radical color, non-binary reality, spirals of sexual expression, and more. When I wasn’t out as queer/gay, I would find good mature trees at local parks and slowly walk around them and near them. Under the trees, I would read poetry out loud, draw pictures of really unique flowers, acorns and branches, and lay down with a blanket in their shade. I still depend on and cherish these practices today. There was and is something so special about the way branches bend, reach, and twist that help me feel seen and affirmed as a queer person. I also crave time resting and sitting next to flowing water. The sound, the rush, the trickle… it all reminds me of movement, of emergence, or trusting the flow.
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?
Since much of my work previous to the pandemic involved walking/moving with lots of wonderful people, the pandemic tugged at my quieter places. I found community in slower moments with my husband, long solo walks, re-visiting my love for ink drawing, resting under more soulful trees, and playing with my 13 year-old husky/blue-heeler mix pup in new and tender ways.
Are there any queer authors, teachers, movies, or artists, that you think people could enjoy or support this Pride month (and every month)?
adrienne maree brown’s work, specifically her book Emergent Strategy, has been a beautiful gift to me these past several years. It has helped me root into more nature-infused artistic expression and has inspired me to be of a more nurturing way in my relationships and in the world. You can buy the book and join me as a member of her creative work for $5 a month on her website.