It was around this time last year that I began thinking about joining Peers for Pride and what it would mean for me to be in a peer facilitation program for the LGBTQ community. And to be completely honest, I don't think I had any real idea of what I was getting into. All I knew was that I had always loved gay people, and that I wanted to be able to consider myself a better ally.
Did I actually know what an ally meant?
Did I actually know anything about the queer community besides a stereotypical view of gay men, lesbians, and drag queens?
Did I truly see the challenges faced by the queer community and understand how true activism works?
I can wholeheartedly answer “no” to all of the above. My general attitude toward queer folk was that they were totally rad and deserved the right to be in love, blah blah blah. Which isn't a bad place to start, but I had, and still have, so much to learn. Know that there are LGBTQ folk who aren't even allies to themselves and aren't even aware of it – everyone has room to grow on this subject.
So, yes, if you consider yourself an ally, or would like to consider yourself a better trained ally, I highly encourage you to consider applying to be in Peers for Pride. In addition to learning vast amounts of knowledge about the queer community and meeting some of the kindest, smartest, wittiest people you will ever meet, I believe that you will also gain one other imperative body of knowledge.
When asked why I do Peers for Pride, it's a very different answer from why I did Peers for Pride. I already denoted my original intentions for joining the class. But why I stuck with it and the value I currently see in it is a slightly different answer.
There is a revolution that is under way – lead by queer folk, feminists, body activists, etc. And no, I don't mean that in a few weeks all gay people will don meat dresses and pink pitchforks and venture out into war (although I wouldn't be surprised if certain people thought that.) What I do mean is that queer folk, out of necessity to make a place for themselves in every day life and society, have discovered the tools required to encourage love one's self, one's body, and one's presentation in the world.
What I'm getting at here is that gay people are not just lobbying on behalf of gay people – we are the leaders in a movement that will have a lasting and revolutionary affect on all humans, all bodies. The transman working tirelessly to love his body, accept his body, and get his friends and family to accept his body will affect the cisgender man struggling with his own body issues. The lesbian holding her girlfriend's hand in public will have an affect on the heterosexual woman who is afraid to love someone because she's “not supposed to.” The gay man struggling with masculinity will affect the straight man struggling with his masculinity.
Gender identity and sexual orientation touch the very core of our souls, the very core of our outward existence in the world. If your body was challenged every day, in and out, for simply just being, how would you feel? If your love was debated and disputed everywhere you went, from your home to the mall, how would you feel? If you would like to find a more personal answer to these questions, then I would suggest that you visit this website, http://bit.ly/ciO9V3, and download an application to be a member of Peers for Pride. It truly is something you won't regret.