Should We, Like, Even Have Pride 2020?

Content note: This post discusses the coronavirus pandemic as well as the cancellation of Pride 2020 and other events, and, more importantly, racism and the protests currently unfolding in the US following the death of yet another Black man at the hands of a police officer. Obviously, that’s kinda heavy, so please take care of yourselves first – you can’t pour from an empty (or debilitatingly traumatised) cup.


I’ve been lucky enough to go to a number of brilliant pride events. Even when they’ve been overwhelming, and a little lacking in the accessibility department, and thoroughly rained upon, I’ve been warmed through by a sense of community and safety that I rarely find outside of kink spaces and small pockets of the internet. Like a lot of people, I was really looking forward to Pride 2020.

Except, well, it’s 2020.

There’s a pandemic going on, just in case you had somehow not heard (and I’m so fucking jealous of you if you hadn’t). That, obviously, means that physical pride events are going to be difficult to organise in a safe and responsible way. I’ve been grieving the loss of a lot of opportunities and things I was excited about and any sense of normality, so pride events being cancelled is something I’m kinda already emotionally prepared for. Besides, it’s not physical events that I’m the most invested in (again, overwhelming and inaccessible) – it’s pride month.

Pride month is usually a lot of fun. It’s the month before my birthday, and everything in the shops is dipped in rainbows and other pride flags. The memes are usually impeccable. There are fruitful discussions about the LGBT+ rights movement, and less fruitful “discussions” with trolls (I can’t help it! They’re so easy to wind up!). Most pride months, there’s a hum in the air, like every LGBT+ person is vibrating with excitement at the prospect of painting flags onto their faces and getting wasted. Generally, the vibe is a positive, uplifting one.

I don’t know how or if we could achieve that vibe this year without the coronavirus involved, though, because there’s another reason that I’m writing this blog post: the protests in the United States.

I’m not equipped to talk about what’s going on. I’m not well-informed enough, in my own opinion, but more importantly than that: I’m white. As far as I’m concerned, that means my job is to boost the voices of Black people and other people of colour, but not to come to any grand conclusions on my own and then spout them from my white-person soapbox. I want to be helpful, but in this case, I’m pretty sure the most helpful thing to do would be to listen to Black people, spread the protest bail funds and other helpful information, and tell other white people to bloody well behave themselves.

A while ago, I wrote a blog post called Chicken Wings: A Clumsy Metaphor About Race. That post paradoxically discouraged white fragility and catered to it, by reminding white people that the people who call them out for racist behaviours are trying to help them be less racist. Even at the time, I didn’t love framing it in a way that fed the white egos reading it, but I was trying to be patient and gentle with y’all because I have enough privilege to take a softly-softly approach to anti-racism discussions.

I do not, however, have enough patience for said approach. I’m sick of watching my fellow white people defending cops, criticising the actions of protesters, sharing shit without double-checking its legitimacy or helpfulness… the list goes on. I’m sick of watching white people just… not… care about other human beings. I cannot begin to imagine how much more sick of it most POC are.

So, even though we could do a virtual Pride 2020 – should we? Should we be celebrating while other people are fighting for their rights and getting teargassed in response? Should we all have rainbow-y icons and hang out in group chats and listen to absolutely banging tunes while drinking on Zoom with some mates?

The answer is, of course, that I can’t answer that. Neither can people of colour, because (surprise surprise), they aren’t a monolith. They don’t have meetings about their official stances on various issues. Instead, they’re all individuals – but some of them are community organisers and activists, and I plan to find a few of those people to listen to as June unfolds. I honestly won’t mind if Pride 2020 sort of falls on its face, gets postponed or is entirely written off, because human rights are more important to me than getting to draw flags on my face. You know, obviously.

I don’t want to include just one masterpost of helpful resources in case I miss out something vital, so I implore you (especially if you’re white) to go and do some research about how best to help both the protesters currently operating in the US and the Black Lives Matter movement more broadly. Donate to things, physically turn up and help protesters where you safely can, and remember: wash your hands, don’t touch your face, get a burner phone and never, ever trust a cop.

Pride: A Complicated Experience

Stock photo of glitter laid out in stripes to form a rainbow. Glitter is present at a lot of Pride events, in case you didn't know ;)

I haven’t been to a tonne of Pride events.

I came out to myself as bi when I was about 13, and as nonbinary when I was about 17. Unusually, I think, I didn’t feel any internalised shame about my queer identity in the traditional sense. When I realised I was bisexual, I was excited about it: excited about my newfound connection to the LGBTQ+ community, excited about the possibility of kissing girls and excited that I’d found a label that fit me, after a year or two of worrying that I was simply a lesbian who was very bad at lesbianing.

When I came out to myself as nonbinary, I felt a degree of anxiety that I wasn’t not-cis enough (I didn’t experience all the dysphoria that mainstream media promised me, and I’d only put the pieces together as a young adult), but mostly I was, again, excited to find a word that fit my experience of gender. I understood, in theory, that a lot of people needed the Pride movement to allay their feelings of internalised shame, fear and grossness about being anything other than cishet, but whether it was the autism or my mum’s accepting and loving influence, I never felt bad about being queer.

This didn’t mean that I was uninterested in Pride events, but I didn’t feel any desperate pull towards them. I could experience the joy of being part of the LGBTQ+ community online, in the comfort of my own home, and that felt like enough for me. The first time I went to Pride, it was for an unconventional reason: I was deeply, deeply depressed, and it was a reason to leave the house.

My hometown’s Pride event was, and still is, mercifully grassroots in nature, held in a spacious park and never too crowded. But this didn’t stop me from feeling overwhelmed, especially when I found that there was nowhere for me to sit down and rest my disabled little legs, and nothing was signposted, leading to me getting turned around and confused at least twice an hour. I loved spotting other people’s flags, starting conversations with people about their dogs or their outfits, and talking to the people who ran stalls relevant to my interests, but I left the event exhausted and overstimulated and had to spend at least a couple of days in bed or otherwise in my pajamas, recharging my limited energy.

Bigger Pride events, as you can imagine, intimidate me. I went to one in my university city and found it so challenging that I slipped away on more than one occasion to the outskirts of the event, taking deep breaths and chewing on free sweets obtained from various stalls and booths. I know lots of other people find Pride inaccessible, and this year, I stuck to my hometown’s event – but still needed to be babysat by my girlfriends and metamour, reminded to eat, and encouraged to leave earlier than most people might because I was ready to lie down on the grass and give up.

This is why I feel conflicted about Pride. I already felt like it might not be for me, since I didn’t experience the internalised shame that so many LGBTQ+ people talked about, and after having found so many Pride events to be lacking in the accessibility department, I felt that even more strongly. Couple that with a police presence which makes my autistic nerves run higher than the volume on the main stage’s speakers and the ongoing online discussions about who “belongs” at Pride, I’ve often wondered what Pride does have to offer me.

The thing is, Pride as a concept is great. I enjoy rainbow paraphernalia and I even enjoy watching corporations desperately try to cater to me (only to drop the facade on the 1st of July) and then watching other LGBTQ+ people mock them for it. Pride month is fun, it reminds me of the importance of community and visibility, and it gives me an excuse to respond melodramatically to every minor inconvenience (“It’s raining? During this, Pride Month?”). But I’m starting to acknowledge that I pressure myself into attending events that I don’t really need to be at. I already know my community exists, I have created safe spaces of my own to be queer in, and I don’t feel gross or ashamed or anything other than pleased about my queer identity.

I know Pride does a lot for a lot of people. I love seeing people at Pride events blossoming with confidence they might not feel anywhere else, and I appreciate that there exists a space where everyone can just… be their authentic selves, without fear of repercussion. But with gatekeeping, corporate involvement, inaccessibility and the rest of it, it’s a movement and a series of events that I feel somewhat disconnected from.

I will continue to defend my LGBTQ+ siblings’ right to attend Pride events, obviously. I want to speak up in defense of asexual and aromantic people’s place at Pride and about the ways that a police presence can make POC and neurodivergent people feel deeply uncomfortable, but I might not need to push myself into events to achieve that. I suppose it’s a result of internalised ableism, something I do experience a lot of, that I feel like I need to do what my abled friends are doing whether I actually want to or not. And I suppose it’s important for me as an activist to confront my internalised ableism, and that might mean staying home from crowded, noisy, police-infested Pride events when I need to.

I’m still going to buy shit with rainbows on it, though. I’m always going to buy shit with rainbows on.

#PrideMonth: a love letter

Photo of red, orange, yellow, green and indigo round pieces of candy arranged into the shape of a love heart

I’m super fucking queer.

I use the word ‘queer’ deliberately, in the same way I describe myself as a ‘slut’. I know it’s a word that gets whispered behind my back, and occasionally yelled at me in the street. It’s supposed to hurt me, to make me feel like every fibre of my being is odd and unwelcome. Unfortunately for queerphobic assholes, I pride myself on being contrary, so I have stolen the word ‘queer’ with my gay little hands.

When they hurled it at me, I caught it. It’s mine now.


I’m bisexual.

I realised this the moment I found the language for it. Before then, I’d been weighing up my attractions, trying to figure out which gender I fancied more often, more intensely, more legitimately. I thought, for a while, that I was a lesbian who was just really bad at resisting the patriarchal imperative to have crushes on men. Before then, I’d thought I was straight, and that all my feelings of unease and fascination centred around women were a mix of admiration and envy.

I don’t remember where I found the word ‘bisexual’, but I do remember that it felt like suddenly remembering where I’d left my keys, fourteen years after losing them. As cliché as it sounds, identifying as bisexual felt like coming home.

I found the word ‘pansexual’ too, and toyed with that, but my attraction to all genders wasn’t attraction regardless of gender. I tended to have gooey, romantic, heart-eyes-emoji-esque feelings towards girls before any sexual ones, and the inverse when I fancied boys. Something indescribable separated my experiences of attraction to both of the genders I knew about at the time – and when I learned about nonbinary people, I experienced yet another set of feelings about them. (Plus, the pan flag has yellow in it, and I’m not a fan. I’d rather have the jewel-tone bi flag any day, and fourteen-year-old Morgan was very shallow.)

Armed with a word that accurately summed up how I experienced love and lust, I did what any confused autistic teen might do: I researched it. I found lists of celebrities and public figures who were (or were thought to be) bisexual. It was 2012, so I found memes. And, naturally, I found bigots. I had expected to run into homophobia, but I hadn’t expected to run into gatekeeping from the gay community itself. I wasn’t prepared to be told to ‘pick a side’ or that I was ‘actually gay’ and lying to myself. I wasn’t ready to be called ‘greedy’ when I’d had two relationships in my adolescence, one of which only featured a single, brief kiss. I wasn’t expecting to be hurt by people who knew what homophobia felt like.

And this, dear reader, is where this post becomes a love letter.

Because for every one voice that was calling my orientation greedy or fake or ‘not gay enough’, there were dozens more bi people and allies countering their bullshit. I was learning new ways to backchat biphobes all the time. I learned queer history, the split attraction model, new ways to define gender and more through the vocal dissent of people who were fucking sick of biphobia; and, more importantly, I learned that I had hundreds upon hundreds of strangers’ voices rallying around me and defending my existence. I found a community.

It was through this vocal, loving, ready-to-educate community that I ended up finding my gender identity. It took me three or four years after growing into the label of ‘bisexuality’ to realise that, on top of being super bi, I wasn’t cis – and in a lot of ways, it felt scarier. Either online biphobia had subsided somewhat in those four years, or I’d just got better at making my social media environment more welcoming; regardless, I felt very comfortable in my bisexual skin.

But even some bi people were insisting I couldn’t be nonbinary.

I was confident in my belief that there were more than two genders. I’d read plenty of material, ranging from nonbinary people’s blog posts to accounts of olden-days rejection of gender binaries to the abstracts of actual studies on the subject, so I was pretty certain that nonbinary people were A Thing™. The problem lay in whether or not I was nonbinary.

I’ve blogged about my experiences of gender before now, so I won’t repeat myself, but I will add that I was scared of claiming the labels ‘nonbinary’ and ‘trans’ for months. (I still sort of cringe when I call myself ‘trans’, waiting for someone somewhere to insist that only binary trans people ‘count’.) But, again, it was the loud, brave voices of other queer folk that comforted me, and made me realise the importance of claiming words that fit me. I realised that, being white and academically inclined, I could use my voice to legitimise nonbinary experiences; being a human being, I deserved to legitimise my own experiences too.


Again, I’ve managed to prune my social circles and my social media consumption so that a lot of cissexism doesn’t reach me, especially online. I’ve educated some of my IRL friends and given up on others, and I have done myself the enormous favour of swearing off dating straight men. I owe huge portions of my self-confidence, comfort and personal growth to the LGBTQ+ community.

We are brave. We are strong. We are loving.

We are also doing real fuckin’ badly on some fronts, like including people of colour, making Pride accessible and eliminating, among other things, cissexism, slutshaming, acephobia and gatekeeping.

I know we can do better than this, because I’ve been on the right side of it. When we put our energy into activism, into educating each other and the cishets, and into being compassionate and welcoming, we can do incredible shit. We can make kids like fourteen-year-old Morgan feel at home in their acne-prone, super-queer skin.

I guess this is a tough-love letter now. Let’s get our shit together, and make each Pride shine brighter than the last. We owe it to ourselves and each other, and I know – I know – we’re capable of it.