We are coming up on June, aka Pride Month. I have complicated feelings about Pride. Don’t get me wrong, I love to watch the LGBTQ+ community celebrate themselves. I even loved it before I realized that one the roles in my life was to be a Mama Bear to my kid. But the commercialization and the fetishization that some cis-het people do makes me uncomfortable. Do I belong at Pride?
I know there is some debate about whether allies are a part of the community. I’ve seen arguments that I agree with and disagree with. For me, I consider myself to be LGBTQ+ adjacent. The experiences of the community will never be my experiences, but because of my relationship to my child not that of a bystander, I feel more impacted personally. This is a child that I’ve raised. It is my job to help them navigate the world so I have to consider things that other people don’t.
In 1972, Jeanne Manford walked along side her son in an early Pride Parade and then created PFLAG (which is an amazing organization). She wanted the world to
know that she loved and supported her son. And she knew that bringing together family and friends of LGBTQ+ people would give them a place where they didn’t have to explain. They could simply love them and be understood.
One of my first experiences at Pride, I was wearing a shirt I bought that had a snarling mama bear standing in front of a trans colored cub. At the time, there were bathroom bills popping up all over the place. And I was pretty furious that anyone would view my vulnerable kid as a threat. While waiting outside the porta potties, I struck up a conversation with an adult trans woman. She talked about how it made her feel to see a supportive parent because her own parents had not been supportive of her. Then she asked for a hug. I happily gave it to her and realized the profound affect that it had on both of us. Those are the moments where I feel like I belong.
Parents of LGBTQ+ children come from all walks of life. And once they figure out how to best support their kids, they may not feel the need to be part of a specific group. For me, once I got past the parts that needed my help/intervention like school and medical issues, it has been just like supporting any other child as an individual just with a few extra considerations (like figuring out if a state has gender identity codified in the anti-discrimination laws before applying to college there). But we also want to celebrate this part of our kids that is who they are even if there are people who don’t understand. I love to be around people who know how to use neopronouns and don’t assume heterosexuality. People who find gender reveal to be really gross. (Seriously, you going to celebrate your baby’s genitals and consider someone who is trans weird.) People who just get it.
That said, while I do view myself as a Mama Bear and I’m more than happy to provide Free Mom Hugs (both the physical contact kind and the soap version that I sell), my presence is not the most important at an event for LGBTQ+ folks. It isn’t even close to essential. I will be selling my products (and giving away some freebies) at a number of Pride events, supporting the organizations with my fees and donating a portion of my proceeds to The Pride Foundation. The ones I’m looking the most forward to are the places where it is the most scary for LGBTQ+ people to come together because they are worried about what their communities think. My goals for being at Pride is to give people a smile, a hug (if they want one) and connect with people who feel that everyone should be celebrated for being exactly who they are. So if you come to an event where we are, please stop by and say hi!