I got a lot of invitations over the course of this week to various pride events. I turned down all of them politely, and smiled while my friends posted pictures and joyous updates on the grand old time they had at parades, parties, and other pride festivities. I’m glad for them and I am happy they had so much fun.
If there’s a word to describe how I feel outside of that happiness for them, it’s “jealousy”. Pure and simple. I’m somewhat saddened that I’m not all that keen on pride events and the culture of the LGBTQI community. I remain peripheral throughout it all. It’s not from a lack of trying. I’ve been to pride barbecues, queer proms, pride parties, gay clubs, and pride dances before. I always went alone because Jaime is in Victoria, and she’s not very comfortable at these types of events either, for her own reasons. When I went, it was usually too noisy, requiring earplugs, too touchy-feely, when I need my personal space, the bright lights burned and hurt my autistic eyes, and, though this is more a quibble than anything serious, the whole campy, colourful, extravagant flair to it didn’t mesh will with my much more old-fashioned and demure (I much prefer the Japanese word for this, 地味, Jimi) fashion tastes.
I understand the place that these events have in the community. They’re a vent. We face a whole lot of shit here in Montana, from eliminationist rhetoric, attacks on our community at the verbal, legal, and physical levels, and a general marginalization from the mainstream. When you have to live under these conditions, many people would get the urge to party hard, loud, and proud. I feel very lucky to have never come across more serious problematic elements found in some LGBTQI groups while here in Missoula, like transphobia, racism, disablism (though it can be argued that the sensory unfriendliness of the events is a form of it) sneering at asexuality and demisexuality, or lesbian erasure. The only really big huge problem I ever had with it was how certain straight people claiming to be allies had the nerve to supplant queer leaders within the community and take over planning events, and spent most of these events focusing on marriage, how Real Christians™ were 100% cool with gayness, and no other issues. *ahem* But it just wasn’t for me to attend big parties, no matter how important the cause to me. I’m not accusing them of being “stereotypically gay” or not accommodating me, but that’s the reality of it.
I’m hoping though, when I get to Victoria, that I’ll find solace in a more quiet, more communication and face-to-face discussion with other queer couples. I thrive on discussions of ideas, exchanging of tips, and sharing stories in general, and I’m hoping we’ll meet other queer couples who want to stop by and have a cup of tea. If I could synthesize this into a Panglossian “Best of All Possible Groups”, I would find other queer autistic activists who are up for letter writing campaigns and discussions in not-too-loud restaurants or bistros. Preferably ones which serve sweet potato fries. Absolute bliss. Even though gender-neutral marriage is a legal reality in Canada, the battle for Canadian queer equality isn’t over yet. I hope I can work up reasons to party in Canada, but celebrate in my own way.