I have been sitting on this piece for a few days now, wondering if it needed to be written or if I would stir the pot. It turns out I can’t let the subject stay unaddressed.
Recently, I read an article by a Vocal creator advocating for a Faith community on Vocal. This creator has also started a petition for Vocal to create such a community. Let me say this upfront: I am not advocating against such a community. I think If Vocal can ensure that it doesn’t become full of judgment, condemnation, hate, and proselytizing, we should have a Faith Community. If that can’t be ensured, then I feel that a group like that will be divisive, and there is no place on Vocal for a divisive group. Vocal needs to continue to be safe for all creators.
What is my issue then?
When I first joined Vocal and got familiar with the communities, I was elated that there is a community for queer voices, where those of us who are LGBTQ+ can share their writings on any topic. And we can do this with no hate messages being sent, no one questioning the value of our voices, and we can share our perspectives.
My issue is this. As part of the piece mentioned above, advocating for a faith community, the creator listed four “potentially” controversial communities Vocal already has as one of their reasons for a group that would also be controversial. Here in lies my problem. The Pride community was listed as controversial, along with Filth, Potent, and Swamp.
Vocal states that the Pride community is about “Embracing all shades of the rainbow. Pride is the home to everything love, light, and LGBTQIA+.”
So, where is the controversy? What makes Pride a controversial community? The love? The light? Or is it controversial because of who we are? The whole LGBTQ+ community has to fight for their right to even exist. Every four years, our lives and lifestyles are on the voting ballot. This is not the same for straight people.
When it is said the community is controversial, it is like saying WE are controversial. Simply because we exist. Vocal was the last place I expected to feel that way.
Our lives are in the same Potent, Swamp, Filth clump. Are our lives controversial? What about the proof community? Alcohol kills hundreds of thousands of people every year, but that is not controversial in the eyes of this creator? No, instead, Potent is. Alcohol is socially acceptable. That is why it wasn’t listed as a controversial community. I have to point out no one has died from cannabis use.
Why a pride community is needed.
LGBTQ+ is a community that has been historically, and still is, a community that is underrepresented and underheard. Every election, our right to exist and have the same rights as every American is entitled to is a public debate.
A Pride community is needed to give LGBTQ+ creators a safe place to be. To write about our lives, our loves, our struggles, and our journeys.
A Pride community is needed because kids and adults are still killing themselves over their sexuality.
A Pride community is needed because trans people are facing violence on an increasing scale.
A Pride community is needed to show that our lives matter. That our lifestyles matter. That we are contributing members of society.
A Pride community is needed because who we love shouldn’t be fodder for bigotry and hate.
A Pride community is needed to show that LGBTQ+ people are not controversial.
A Pride community is needed because, in 2023, there were five hundred and ten anti-LGBTQ+ laws introduced on the state level.
All of those reasons are controversial for us.
How this affects me personally.
My husband, kids, and I were at the mall six years ago. Our youngest, Elliott, used to love holding hands with us while walking. So Elliott was walking between my husband and me, holding my hand on one side and my husband’s on the other. We thought nothing of it. Until a woman behind us let out a loud sigh of disgust and said, “Gross” or something along those lines. I let everyone else walk ahead of us, and I confronted her, and without saying specifically what I said, I put her in her place.
Mark and I still get looks occasionally. In the small town we live in, we are “the gays that live on the hill”. We went for ice cream one day, and as we were driving away, a group of teens yelled, “GAAAAAAY”.
There was another time I was applying for the Heat Energy Assistance Program. The rep on the phone asked me who the other man on the application was. I told her he is my fiancé. She let out a noticeable sigh of disgust (that is pretty common) and said that changed things. I hung up on her and called to speak to her supervisor. The issue was resolved, and the supervisor apologized for the rep’s tone and sigh.
So, how does this affect me? When I read that our lives, a community of LGBTQ people, were classified as controversial, it brought up all the feelings from past experiences with homophobia. I was offended. I was hurt. I felt the record needs to be set straight.
So, no, our Pride community is not controversial. It is only controversial for people who are still, unbelievably, in this day and age, anti-LGBTQ+.
Thanks to my friend Oneg In The Arctic for being my sounding board and for your excellent suggestions.
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