So pride season is here. A time of joy for all queers except those who work at gay bars & clubs. I am one of these unfortunate souls. Since being the Buff Butch doesn’t pay the bills, I have a night side hustle as a security guard and valet at Hamburger Mary’s in Long Beach,CA. Last weekend was the 30th annual Long Beach Gay Pride. Or as we call it in the industry, hell week. I took today off to recover from the ordeal and reflect on how I feel about pride.
I view pride as two separate people: Pat the Queer and Pat the Guard. Pat the Queer loves watching people revel in their differences and celebrate the diversity of our community. Unfortunately for Pat the Guard, a lot of people take this time to act up while under heavy influence of alcohol. I was thrown up on, called a bitch and a “fucking dyke” , had my gender identity argued with by more than one cis gay man, and attacked by a small woman at the end of the last night ( I have scratch marks from the ordeal). I, for one, am not comfortable with a definition of pride that borders on a complete disregard for members of the community. Despite the verbal and physical abuse, I would be wrong to not acknowledge that pride has an amazing capacity to bring us together.
As a guard, I was approached by many members of the Masculine of Center community who remembered me from last year and noticed a change in my physical body. I discussed my project with them and was met with much enthusiasm and love. Several patrons commented on my behavior while working as being refreshing and expressed their appreciation at my attempts to make the night enjoyable for everyone. As a queer, I was able to enjoy the parade riding cupcake on a Ducati during the dykes on bikes portion and was warmly swarmed by the kids I volunteer with at Long Beach’s Center as I stood on the sidelines watching the rest of the floats. While I feel there is so much corporate pollution in our festivities, to see us as a community stand strong despite so many efforts to silence us is so inspiring.
On the last night of pride, I was approached by a butch while standing guard over an overflowed portapotty (such a dignified task, I know). They struggled to communicate a question so many patrons bluntly asked me; “what are you?”. I clarified the protocol of asking this question and then identified myself as a butch genderqueer. They shook my hand and stated “I wish I had your guts”. They then went on to tell me they felt they were too butch to be a woman, but too scared to not be a woman. That the community they lived was too hostile to break free from the label of lesbian though they did not really consider themselves one. As I was called on the radio, I only had time to tell them there was a community that loved and held them. I wish I had time to tell them they had the same guts as I do. That there is a whole army of us with the courage to be who we are despite so much hostility.
This is what pride means to me. It is my goal in life to make every day a day of pride, not only for myself but for every individual in the community. It’s something I wish to grow and build with this site; a strong sense of pride of who we are. Most of all, I am so proud I am not alone in this endeavor. Keep fighting the good fight, brothers and sisters. I am honored to stand by your side.
Your Brother in Arms