As we locally and nationally celebrate LGBTQAI+ Pride Month, let us remember a few things. First, this is not one, homogenous group. This is a list of letters representing a wide range of identities and communities, some of whom occasionally work together to further goals and agendas, like same-sex marriage, and others who are often hidden in the background, and even shunned by those nestled beside them in this alphabet soup. Second, there is the recognition that as we celebrate and glorify the rainbow, not all colors are equally represented. A recent article discussed how the city of Philadelphia wishes to include black and brown in the rainbow, to recognize those people of color who are often marginalized based on race and sexual orientation and gender identity.
How do we embrace difference, uniqueness, and individuality? It’s so easy to want to stand apart from the crowd, and yet demand that everyone else fit into a prescribed box to “make things easier”. What we really need to do is learn a way of thinking that allows for difference, uniqueness, and individuality… Luckily, we have a model that might just do that.
About two years ago, several colleagues published a little paper on the dimensions of Positive Sexuality. We can apply some of those here to show how we can really allow this rainbow to shine and represent so many different types of people.
There are eight dimensions discussed, but let’s just point out a few that are especially important when celebrating Pride Month. Individual sexuality is unique and multifaceted. The fact is, many people’s sexual identities change and grow throughout their lifetime. No one is the same as they were when they were born. This is a not a nature vs. nurture argument. This is a recognition that we get to be multidimensional, complex beings whose sexual identities do not neatly fit into one or two letters of the 26 limited letters of the alphabet. If you are celebrating diversity, celebrate all of it, not just the parts that fit you.
On that same note, positive sexuality is humanizing. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum of sexual identity, you are a person who should be respected. At the end of the day, the Pride parades and marches are really about equality and freedom, those two elusive qualities that most humans strive to achieve. We must recognize that our own equality and freedom does not come from taking it from others, but by embracing others and reflecting their humanity in our own actions.
Although there are several more dimensions to positive sexuality, the other to be stressed this day is peacemaking. This is the most difficult of the dimensions because it forces us to recognize that until we stand together, we fall apart. This Pride Month is not just about the equality and recognition of the nonheteronormative sexual and gender identities, it is about the necessity to come together under a banner of humanity, recognizing that we all have needs and wants and desires, and that most of us hope to achieve our day to day goals peacefully and respectfully, not through bullying and harm.
This rainbow is dynamic and reflective, and maybe we shouldn’t be trying to make things easier. Maybe that is what this rainbow represents — a spectrum of colors, ideas, and identities to be celebrated and embraced in all its complexity.
Happy Pride Month from Center for Positive Sexuality!