On Pride: Lucia Bennett Leighton
“…this year Pride is what it’s always been: a fight for our right to exist.”
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 Lucia Bennett Leighton, co-editor of Oppression and the Body: Roots, Resistance, and Resolutions.
On Pride 2021
For many queer adults I know, this past year in quarantine provided space to relax into a truer version of ourselves. We’ve been in very small communities of our closest friends in which we’ve had enough breathing room and freedom of self-expression to explore more authentic versions of ourselves that aren’t informed by having to code-switch and assess for safety in a heteronormative world. I know people who’ve come out as trans or non-binary or gay during quarantine because of that space and freedom to explore. This pride month feels like a reemergence—for some, another “coming out”—after a period of authentic, unfettered exploration.
The major juxtaposition this year is that our reemergence as more authentic—and arguably queerer— versions of ourselves is into a Pride month where rainbows and “support” seem to be more ubiquitous than ever before, yet our fundamental rights to exist are still being threatened.
Some of the most barbaric and harmful anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in legislative sessions across the country, and those same companies with rainbow logos expressing their “support” of the LBGTQ community have donated billions to the anti-LGBTQ politicians pushing these bills. We can see this country (or at least the corporations) trying desperately to pretend that it loves gay people this month, but when looked at closely, the shallow affirmations of support crumble.
This year, I am learning that the rainbow—once a symbol of safety and belonging—is now a symbol of hypocrisy. This is almost worse than downright ostracism or hatefulness. It feels like gaslighting; an attempt to lull us into a false sense of security and disconnect us from our outrage and activism.
So, despite the increase in rainbows and “pride sections” of major chain stores, this year Pride is what it’s always been: a fight for our right to exist.
Are there any queer authors, teachers, movies, or artists, that you think people could enjoy or support this Pride month (and every month)?
- L word Generation Q
- Tales of the City
They all have queer characters actually played by queer actors, which is unfortunately so rare.
A queer visual artist I love is Frances Cannon. Their Instagram is @frances_cannon
A queer influencer I really appreciate is Ericka hart: @ihartericka
And I’ve been SO grateful for the work of Sonya Renee Taylor. She’s a queer poet and activist and wrote the book, The Body is Not an Apology.
In the fiction world, I enjoyed the book Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Riveria and Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. They’re not new books, but I read them this year and appreciated them!