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Pride is Not A Controversial Community on Vocal

J. Delaney-Howe

By J. Delaney-HowePublished about a month ago Updated about a month ago 4 min read
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Pride is Not A Controversial Community on Vocal
Photo by Cecilie Johnsen on Unsplash

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.

If you got something out of this article, and wish to read more of my work, that can be found below:

I appreciate every read, heart, comment, and tip. Thank you!

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About the Creator

J. Delaney-Howe

Bipolar poet. Father. Grandfather. Husband. Gay man. I write poetry, prose, some fiction and a good bit about family. Thank you for stopping by.

Queer Vocal Voices on Facebook.

Find me on Facebook.

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Comments (23)

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  • E.K. Daniels28 days ago

    Well said. Our identity is not controversial. The fact that this is still considered the case for many is proof that ‘Pride’ is a needed community. Representation matters, and our stories matter. I’m so sorry you and your family had to go through that. We are not alone in our struggles, and the community helps to illustrate that.

  • Atomic Historianabout a month ago

    Awesome and well said. I made a different argument against such a community on Vocal in the comments section of that piece. But yours is far more relevant. Which makes sense, because you’re an insider and I’m not

  • Caroline Janeabout a month ago

    Well said and I could not agree more! ❤️

  • Krishan Mubasharabout a month ago

    The homophobia is increasing again, so we need a controversial safe space for us. A place where we can discuss openly, controversial and out of sight of homophobia. We are threaded and we have to figure out what we can do to change it. We are causing some of their fears and we should be able to discuss all issues. Here in Germany the LGBTIQ+ community is far away from being a safe haven for some of us, lots of bullying and shaming of all kinds going on. But most of all we need to show the world we are human beings. (somehow weird and pity that it is not logical to all mankind). Diversity can create a strength, that we really need in the years to come to face what will be thrown at us (again).

  • Stephanie Hoogstadabout a month ago

    As someone who is omnisexual in a county that barely accepts people who are gay, the only people that I feel safe talking to about my sexuality are close family members and some online friends. It’s nice to have somewhere to go to if I want to talk about that part of my life. Like you said, it shouldn’t be controversial because it’s just a part of who we are. Unfortunately, certain people have made that not the case in the “real world”, so it’s good to have places like Vocal where we can find a community. Thank you for sharing your perspective and experiences with us.

  • Sandra Tena Coleabout a month ago

    Brilliantly put! Thank you for this much needed response! As a bisexual woman from Mexico with a genderfluid spouse, I can relate! We live in the UK, so either way we look is looking back at us with judgement. All of this needs to be said, so thanks again 🏳️‍🌈🩷💜💙x

  • Cathy holmesabout a month ago

    You're right. Pride is not controversial. I haven't seen that article you refer to (and have no intention of reading it), but I am sorry that it hurt you. This was an excellent, well-thought out response.

  • I'm not against a Faith Community, either, so long as it's about sharing beliefs & learning about others with grace & compassion. But if it becomes about embracing some while excluding others, judging or condemning, I'm against it. And I'm an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church. Our son was treated by others as gay long before he accepted it about himself & actually came out. One of the experiences he had which continues to haunt is that his freshman year of high school, the other boys on the track team would not allow him to shower after practice. Ignorance & fear. It took a couple more years before they got to know him well enough to accept him for he was. His senior year he won the right to invite his boyfriend to high school prom. I could not have been prouder of him. That there is controversy surrounding the Pride Community says absolutely nothing about either it or any of its members. It says a whole lot about those who would treat & restrict them in ways they would never countenance for "one of their own". And for those who do so in the name of Christ, it demonstrates just how far we have yet to go to understand what it means, "to love your neighbor as yourself."

  • Leslie Writesabout a month ago

    Extremely well said ❤️

  • Raymond G. Taylorabout a month ago

    Love to you, your husband and your children. I was surprised the other day to be asked at a job interview whether I ‘had a problem’ working with gay people. Anyone who did yet applied for a job in a London theatre is not only homophobic but pretty f******g stupid! Love is love 🏳️‍🌈 let’s keep it that way

  • Thavien Yliasterabout a month ago

    I'm sorry that You've experienced such horrid instances of homophobia. I do hope that the lady from the Heat Energy Assistance Program was only sighing because You were fiancés at the time and (maybe I don't know (if it makes a difference or not)) not officially married, and not because she's anti-gay. J., I never knew You gay until I saw a Facebook post You made awhile back. Well, that and another different article from You. You're just a decently chill guy.

  • River Joyabout a month ago

    Agreed and so well said. As a queer person all I want to do is live my life with my partner without it being a "thing". Inherently politicizing queer identities is what leads to further oppression.

  • Rick Henry Christopher about a month ago

    Jim, you are my friend. You don't know just how much I respect and admire you. I love you for your sensitivity and your integrity. I know from what I feel in my heart that you are a good and honest person. I apologize for any misunderstanding. I meant no harm whatsoever. I could have used different words instead of controversial. I support you 100%. I always have and always will.

  • kpabout a month ago

    thanks for sharing this. as a queer, medically transitioned trans-masculine person, i couldn't agree more. tired of my identity being deemed controversial and having policy made that restricts my ability to care for myself and live a full life.

  • Lamar Wigginsabout a month ago

    Thank you for standing up for what you believe in. I do think there is room for all communities. Pride has already proven its importance. Between the two communities in question, I do agree that faith has the potential of being the most biased because let’s face it, Some/most religions are not inclusive to pride’s lifestyle and will therefore, at some point express their disapproval of it. Maybe not because they think it’s wrong but because their faith has taught them that it’s not the way of their God, their beliefs. For me, the obvious and logical connection that God ( if you believe) loves everyone no matter who they are, lies in the fact that Being all powerful and all knowing means that you know the future outcome of your creations. Its not like a god would sit there wondering where they went wrong in the process and maybe should go back to the drawing board. Isn’t that absurd? “God Hates” is an oxymoron. Two words that don’t belong together. Sorry for the rant. It’s unbelievable to me that this is so hard to realize. Thanks again for sharing this important topic of discussion. I do believe the faith community would have some amazing benefits as long as we don’t push our beliefs and argue about the contradictions between separate faiths. Pride is here to stay. And like the title says ‘Is not controversial’.

  • Mother Combsabout a month ago

    <3 I stand with you, Jim.

  • Shirley Belkabout a month ago

    I am a Christian and would love a "faith" community to express my thoughts, feelings, values in a responsible manner. Many people today feel that Christianity is controversial. So, I can see your point, too. Anytime that anyone differs in perception or viewpoint, there is a chance of it becoming a controversy, unfortunately. Let's all just take a deep breath and stand up for one another, especially on this platform. We really can't be "free" until we do that. Having these platforms gives us ALL a chance of better understanding different viewpoints and perceptions, and learning to respect one another. I, for one AM DESPERATE to understand more about one of my family members, who is a member of your pride community. I will admit having a hard time wrapping my almost 70 year old mind around the fact of the matter. I don't hate or reject them for a minute...just need to understand. I'm sure some don't understand why I chose to follow Christ, either...but would love the opportunity to answer questions and have honest discussions. And to clarify, it's my belief that I don't pay anybody's bills, so what they do in their life, is their business. No matter who the president is. I think MOST Christians feel the same way, although there's always extremists and haters from every group. I don't believe RHC meant any harm, honestly. But it did give you an opportunity to help us see your personal struggles and how it has impacted you and your family. Helps me to have more compassion and empathy.

  • Rachel Robbinsabout a month ago

    I just want to offer my support and solidarity as an ally. My life has been enriched by the people I have met from the LGBTQIA+ community. You are never controversial to me.

  • Mariann Carrollabout a month ago

    I am so glad you wrote this 💗🤗, some people can be so ignorant sometimes. I wonder did you have a talk with your kids on this? You and Mark are great parents. You are both compassionate people with a ton of love to share. I used to work at a daycare and we see same sex couples all the time with their kids. I don’t see any controversy in it at all. They kids are proud and happy when they see their parents come pick them up. They give their kids hugs and kisses when the leave and pick them up.

  • Judey Kalchik about a month ago

    So today the Ohio legislature overruled to Governor in order to deny trans kids gender affirming care. To your point: gender is made political. When I started writing on Vocal any piece that referred to God, faith, church, or prayer was bounced back for editing. That is no longer the case. I agree with you viewpoint regarding a safe space. My fear is that the supervision of content for ensuring that safety is not yet available. AI, spam, porn links, plagiarism: none allowed on Vocal, but things I have seen and reported for removal. I am glad that my piece on becoming a minister was printed last year; it would not have been allowed in 2021. My thought is that four out of the many communities may have been mentioned for one if the reasons bookstores identify these subjects: politics, gender and sexuality, eroticism, and pot; as most heavily stolen. It’s because people are drawn to them. They have strong feelings about them. They are ignorant about what they are all about, they seek to own or ancestry what they don’t (or won’t) understand. I haven’t signed the petition for a Faith Community, and I won’t be upset if it happens. I think it would be fine to have a Faith tag in Books, People, Humans, History, etc. I’d probably use that. It’s just- faith is part of who I am. It’s as much a part of me as your live is for you husband and children. The difference is I am seldom treated harshly or receive hate speech because if it. The same isn’t true of my LGBtQA+ friends and family. And, as Ohio has shown me today, we have a long way to go in ensuring a safe place exists. So no: I don’t believe the Pride Community is controversial, and yes: as a child of an alcoholic family,; I have more aversion to Proof than Potent. The comparison may have been meant as an acknowledgement that ignorance lashes out and creates inflammatory content.. and I’ve seen that in mainstream media. Thankfully, I haven’t seen it in Vocal ( but TBH I haven’t looked for it either). But I do hope I, personally, can be a small nod to the idea that , in it’s own community or not, Faith is not always toxic. Pretty much, that’s one of my main goals in life. J

  • Oneg In The Arcticabout a month ago

    There's always been room for religion in the world- but suddenly there's space for queer voices and it becomes controversial. Can't just go comparing drugs to someone's identity either. That's just downright silly. Our identity is not controversial. It's not anyone's business but our own. No one goes around saying being straight is controversial. Neither is being our authentic queer selves. Thank you for writing this. I know it takes a strength while also taking a toll when we have to deals with this bs and still defend our rights to exist and have space.

  • Morgana Millerabout a month ago

    Hear, hear! Beautifully expressed. I’m sorry for the prejudice you’ve faced; I agree with you, love is the least controversial thing I can possibly think of. 💕💕💕

  • Donna Reneeabout a month ago

    I hear you, I understand why that made you feel this way, and I’m glad that you wrote this… I missed the whole faith community thing because I don’t have any interest in it, but I really hope that the Pride community continues to be a helpful, supportive, and positive space on Vocal.

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