Lgbtq

10 LGBTQ+ People on Pride, Politics and Being an Ally

Published: JUNE 22, 2023
This year's Pride is all about showing up for the community, both in celebration and support.

Hand down, Pride is the best time of year.

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Not only is it a time of celebration, but it's also a moment for the community to come together and revel in our strength and resilience. Unfortunately, despite survey after survey showing that Americans support LGBTQ+ equality, Republican-dominated states have been hellbent on pushing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, particularly anti-transgender bills.

Although we are only halfway through 2023, the Human Rights Commission estimates that as of May, there have already been a staggering 540 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced by state legislatures across the country, with more than 220 bills specifically targeting trans and nonbinary people.

A 2022 Gallup poll estimates that 7.1% of the U.S. adult population is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender - double the percentage since Gallup first measured in 2012.

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These anti-LGBTQ bills could potentially affect an estimated 20 million people. Millions more may identify as asexual, non-binary, pansexual, or other expansive identities. It's difficult to know how large our community is, but we are growing. Our rights and humanity are not up for debate; we deserve full legal and lived equality.

So, this year, it's more important than ever that we show up for one another in whatever ways we can - whether through mutual aid, on the streets, through collective care, or during Pride.

I spoke with 10 brilliant, passionate, thoughtful and creative members of the LGBTQ+ community about this year's Pride month. Here's what they had to say.

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Read: 14 Pride Purchases That Support the LGBTQ+ Community

Cal Cates, Executive Director of Healwell

Pronouns: they/them
Identifies as: transmasc non-binary

Photo of Cal Cates

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What do you love most about the LGBTQ+ community?

Cal Cates: The "community!" The way that we sort of form a group that recognizes its own and supports and uplifts each other. Certainly, there are exceptions to this, but it's a community that makes me proud to be a member. Beautiful, beautiful beings!

How do you plan to celebrate Pride this year?

CC: Honestly, at the age of 47, I have to admit that I have not spent much time engaging in Pride month activities, but this year, imma get my Pride on! I am going to share photos on Instagram of my big, gay, trans life and joy. I'm going to hit the D.C. Pride parade with rainbow stripes pasted on my post-top surgery torso! Who knows what else?… but I am going to SHOW UP! In my work as a non-profit executive director, I'm also looking forward to supporting my organization in showing up to this conversation in a non-rainbow-washing way. We will be exploring the importance of PLAY in June in the online community we host. I'm looking forward to exploring joy this month, which can be so much about what we're fighting against and resisting. What can we open to, my friends?!

In terms of the LGBTQ+ community… what are you most hopeful about right now?

CC: It's clear to me that we will not be silenced. We are strong. We are gorgeous, and we are coming into our power …. or maybe that's just me … but I don't think so. I think we're a force, and we WILL be reckoned with. In my work in healthcare, I get to be a voice, and I get to be heard and to educate and share and learn with my fellow providers about how this is all of our work.

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It's clear to me that we will not be silenced. We are strong. We are gorgeous, and we are coming into our power.

What are you most fearful about right now?

CC: The human tendency to give in to fear and scarcity in pursuit of what we mistake for comfort. It's soooo seductive. When we give in to that, we're all in danger. So the trends in healthcare are very scary and, I fear, are an odd mirror for folks' unexplored stuff about sex, gender, intimacy and all the rest of the nuanced amazingness that makes us human.

What's one thing you want straight allies to know?

CC: Liberation is for all of us. When our straight allies notice that they are also less than free, we will have moved this needle in a meaningful way. It's not allyship that we need. It's solidarity!

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Lindsay Wynn, CEO and Founder of Momotaro Apotheca

Pronouns: she/her
Identifies as: queer femme

What do you love most about the LGBTQ+ community?

Lindsay Wynn: Queer people love really hard. Not just their romantic partners, but also their friends, kids and colleagues. I think the expansiveness and the openness in which they see, feel and love others is sacred. In its highest form, queer love has no boundaries and no judgment. It helps people celebrate their own identities in a world where that is not always the case.

Queer people love really hard. I think the expansiveness and the openness in which they see, feel and love others is sacred.

How do you plan to celebrate Pride this year?

LW: I admittedly love the parade. I go to San Diego's Pride parade, where I am originally from. This feels so affirming and joyful as I (like many) did not have a great relationship with my own queer identity and my hometown adolescent experience. Being back there surrounded by people that are full of joy, celebrating and supporting each other feels really beautiful.

What are you most hopeful about right now?

LW: I am always hopeful people will come around, that love will prevail, that being anywhere on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum will feel easy, and that queer folks won't have to live in fear. The incremental change is happening, which makes me hopeful, and it's wonderful to see younger generations coming out sooner, as well as larger groups of people identifying with their queerness. These pieces will undoubtedly be agents of change.

What are you most fearful about right now?

LW: At the same time, it is still very dangerous to be gay in many places in the United States, hate crimes are still happening, and it feels as if the far right is getting bolder and more dangerous.

What's one thing you want straight allies to know?

LW: Your allyship does not need to be performative. Being an ally is most important in the day-to-day small moments, the affirmations, and the acceptance and celebrations of us. It's not a rainbow shirt during pride; it's sticking up for us, fighting with us, not against us, for the right to love who we want to love without living in fear, judgment and persecution.

Ryan Sultan, MD, Board-Certified Mental Health Physician and Director of Integrative Psych and Research Professor at Columbia University

Pronouns: he/him/his
Identifies as: queer

Ryan Sultan photo

What do you love most about the LGBTQ+ community?

Ryan Sultan: What I love most about the LGBTQ+ community is the resilience, diversity and sense of belonging that it fosters.

How do you plan to celebrate Pride this year?

RS: This Pride, I plan on enjoying the festivities in New York City, where I live, and I'm also keen on attending international celebrations to experience how Pride is expressed globally.

What are you most hopeful about right now?

RS: Reflecting on my time as a leader in the queer resource center in college, I am hopeful about the tremendous positive growth I have seen within our community over the past two decades. The progress has been immense, and I am hopeful that it will continue to flourish.

What are you most fearful about right now?

RS: In the current climate, my fear is the rising divisiveness in the United States, which threatens to regress the advancements in queer rights and representation that we have worked so hard to achieve.

What's one thing you want straight allies to know?

RS: I want straight allies to understand that we, the members of the LGBTQ+ community, are not abstract concepts or political talking points. We are people - your friends, family and co-workers. I urge you to remember this when you engage in conversations about us, especially in the face of politicians or radical views that try to dehumanize or marginalize us.

I want straight allies to understand that we, the members of the LGBTQ+ community, are not abstract concepts or political talking points. We are people - your friends, family and co-workers.

Lana Lipe, licensed clinical social worker and owner of Honu Therapy Services

Pronouns: she/they
Identifies as: queer

Lana Lipe photo

How do you plan to celebrate Pride this year?

Lana Lipe: I plan to celebrate Pride with some of my chosen family this year. We are planning to do a board game night, a movie night, go hiking and just spend time enjoying being together. The past few years have been hard, and we want to spend time appreciating our connections and making new memories together.

What are you most hopeful about right now?

LL: One of the sources of joy and hopefulness that I'm appreciating is that more and more people are coming out and living authentically. I'm noticing that the visibility of LGBTQIA2S+ people and their stories has expanded across platforms. This increased visibility helps challenge stereotypes, promotes support, increases representation and provides role models for queer youth. It makes me hopeful that the future will be brighter.

The visibility of LGBTQIA2S+ people and their stories has expanded across platforms. This increased visibility helps challenge stereotypes, promotes support, increases representation and provides role models for queer youth. It makes me hopeful that the future will be brighter.

What are you most fearful about right now?

LL: It's pretty hard nowadays to get online without hearing stories about increasing physical violence, harassment and discrimination against queer folks. It's also hard to be afraid when more of our rights are being stripped away daily. I know many other people are feeling this way, and I spend a lot of time worrying about the toll that all of this is taking on our physical and mental health.

What's one thing you want straight allies to know?

LL: Your silence speaks volumes! It's so critical that you speak up against homophobic, transphobic and discriminatory remarks or behaviors when you encounter them. This should happen even when you think there aren't any queer people around. When you don't challenge homophobia and transphobia, it not only perpetuates stereotypes and prejudice but also harms relationships and social connections. Instead, use your privilege and influence to challenge prejudice and promote a more inclusive and accepting environment. This includes addressing stereotypes and misconceptions about LGBTQ+ individuals.

Clayre Sessoms, a transgender and disabled psychotherapist who prioritizes working with trans*, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming individuals

Pronouns: she/they
Identifies as: transgender

What do you love most about the LGBTQ+ community?

Clayre Sessoms: What I love most about the LGBTQ+ community is our resilience and our ability to come together in the face of adversity. Even in a challenging year with shifting public opinions and unsettling legislation, our community continues to make strides. We keep coming out, living our truths, and fostering community care and collective healing. It's truly an honor to witness these transformations and to be a part of this strong, diverse community.

Even in a challenging year with shifting public opinions and unsettling legislation, our community continues to make strides. We keep coming out, living our truths, and fostering community care and collective healing.

How do you plan to celebrate Pride this year?

CS: This year, I am planning to celebrate Pride by participating in a local trans march and perhaps watching the parade. Afterward, I look forward to quietly celebrating with my loved ones in a peaceful and serene environment.

What are you most hopeful about right now?

CS: Right now, I am most hopeful about the strength in numbers within our community. As we continue to unite, our voices become louder, our message becomes clearer, and our ability to speak truth to power grows stronger.

What are you most fearful about right now?

CS: However, I am also fearful of the rising wave of hatred that seems to be trying to crush our spirits daily. I find it disheartening to see media outlets amplify these voices of hate rather than focusing on stories of love, acceptance and progress.

What's one thing you want straight allies to know?

CS: I want straight allies to understand the importance of their role in challenging and changing these narratives. Your voices are essential in the fight for equality and acceptance, and we are grateful for your continued support.

Here are some resources that have been invaluable to Sessoms and the people she works with:

  • National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE): This is an advocacy group devoted to advancing the equality of transgender people. They provide various resources, including information on legal rights, healthcare and more.

  • GLAAD's Transgender Resources: GLAAD is a well-known advocacy group that provides a list of legal, medical, and social resources for transgender people.

  • The Trevor Project: This organization provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+ youth, including transgender and nonbinary individuals.

  • Trans Lifeline: This grassroots hotline and microgrants non-profit organization offers direct emotional and financial support to trans people in crisis.

  • Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF): TLDEF is committed to ending discrimination based on gender identity and expression, providing legal resources, and advocating for more inclusive policies and societal attitudes.

  • Trans Youth Equality Foundation: This organization provides education, advocacy, and support for transgender children, youth, and their families.

  • Transgender Health Services Network: This organization offers a comprehensive directory of healthcare providers committed to providing quality care to transgender individuals.

Demi Wylde, sex writer, and podcast host

Pronouns: he/him/they
Identifies as: male/gay/queer

Demi Wylde photoImage: Daniel Huecias @faltercronkite

What do you love most about the LGBTQ+ community?

Demi Wylde: Something I love most about my LGBT community is our rich history. Pride month always reminds me how far we have come in the last 100 years and, with the way things are currently going politically, how much farther we still have to go.

How do you plan to celebrate Pride this year?

DM: I live in L.A., so I will definitely be checking out many of the local events and fundraisers. Also, West Hollywood Pride is coming up next week, so I am stoked to see Jessie Ware live as well.

What are you most hopeful about right now?

DM: I am hopeful that despite all the political nonsense currently aimed at our community, I am sensing a more united front. If you understand history, progress generally comes in waves. To survive the drops in a progressive society, you need to have a strong sense of community.

I am sensing a more united front. If you understand history, progress generally comes in waves. To survive the drops in a progressive society, you need to have a strong sense of community.

What are you most fearful about right now?

DM: Ron DeSantis.

What's one thing you want straight allies to know?

DM: One thing straight allies should know is that we need them now more than ever. If you've got someone in your life who is homophobic or is simply misinformed about our community, you are our first line of defense. If you approach them with love and proper information, you have a much higher chance of success than we would.

Madison McCullough, psychotherapist and clinical supervisor in private practice

Pronouns: she/her
Identifies as: cis queer female

Madison McCullough photo

What do you love most about the LGBTQ+ community?

Madison McCullough: What I love most about the LGBTQ+ community is how deeply we see one another. No matter where I am, if I find a queer space, I immediately feel an immense sense of validation and belonging. We bring each other in and take care of each other so well.

No matter where I am, if I find a queer space, I immediately feel an immense sense of validation and belonging. We bring each other in and take care of each other so well.

Read: When Your Relationship Doesn't Look Queer

How do you plan to celebrate Pride this year?

MM: I plan to celebrate Pride by continuing to show up for my LGBTQ+ clients and encouraging them to make room for their joy. Given all of the violence being perpetrated against LGBTQ+ right now, it is vital for our community to continue to have spaces where we celebrate ourselves.

What are you most hopeful about right now?

MM: I am most hopeful about the deep wisdom of our LGBTQ+ young people. I am consistently amazed by their tenacity, how well they know themselves and how supportive they are of one another.

What are you most fearful about right now?

MM: I fear how so many people in this country are trying to legislate LGBTQ+ people out of existence, especially - and most violently - trans* people. There is an active effort to erase our communities and try to send a message that we don't matter or don't even exist. It's incredibly harmful and driven by so much fear and hatred.

What's one thing you want straight allies to know?

MM: You have more power than we do - use it! We can't fight back alone. Also, LGBTQ+ people are the freakin' best :)

Auntie Vice/Rebecca Blanton, writer, blogger, performer, and podcaster

Pronouns: all pronouns are OK
Identifies as: agender, nonbinary

Auntie Vice/Rebecca Blanton photo

What do you love most about the LGBTQ+ community?

Auntie Vice: Leather dykes. lol. I found the lesbian community through leather dykes in the late 1980s. To this day, I love being in community with leather women.

How do you plan to celebrate Pride this year?

AV: I have a few smaller events I'll attend locally, and I'm hosting a queer, kinky BBQ.

What are you most hopeful about right now?

AV: The current cultural struggle to understand sexuality and gender as a spectrum and journey are promising. I came out as gender non-conforming when we didn't even have words for people like me. Seeing so many people coming to embrace bisexuality and nonbinary gender is promising.

The current cultural struggle to understand sexuality and gender as a spectrum and journey are promising. I came out as gender non-conforming when we didn't even have words for people like me.

What's one thing you want straight allies to know?

AV: Allies are necessary to move the needle toward equality and justice. I appreciate you in the fight. Please keep in mind being an ally also means accepting that when you are in queer spaces, you need to take a backseat to queer voices.

David Suk, CEO and Co-Founder of Saint Luna

Pronouns: he/him
Identifies as: gay

David Suk photo

What do you love most about the LGBTQ+ community?

David Suk: There is always an incredible sense of community. I think the ability to be yourself is what I love most about our community. Unfortunately, we live in a world where it can be dangerous to identify as LGBTQ+. I feel safe, and I can be myself.

Read: Pride Safety 101: How to Stay Safe While Celebrating

How do you plan to celebrate Pride this year?

DS: I like celebrating Pride all year long, and in everything we do at Saint Luna. We are openly gay, we are openly trans and we are incredibly proud of it. Saint Luna is one of very few gay-owned and operated spirit brands. This June, we are partnering with several restaurants across NYC to celebrate Pride. But our real hope is that we feel proud and celebrate our community all year long, not just in June.

Our real hope is that we feel proud and celebrate our community all year long, not just in June.

What are you most hopeful about right now?

DS: I'm most hopeful in the younger voters who are evangelized to push forward meaningful change. We've seen a lot of anti-queer legislation this year, and younger voters are reacting. This past midterm election was the second-highest turnout of younger voters in history, and it makes me hopeful for the future. Now we need these larger corporations to follow suit and not just rainbow wash our community for the sake of sales, but actually advocate for meaningful pro-queer legislation.

What are you most fearful about right now?

DS: There is so much anger and hate in the world right now, and our politicians and media seem to continue to stoke fear among people. That is what I am most fearful of. This year alone, both anti-queer demonstrations and anti-queer violence have all continued to increase and have increased more than three times compared to figures back in 2020. Love and kindness are free and such a happier way to live.

What's one thing you want straight allies to know?

DS: A record amount of anti-queer legislation is being introduced and, sadly, passed. I want allies to know that this legislation and hate rhetoric is driving an increase in hate crimes. It is making our community less safe, and we need our allies to raise up their voices and demand action.

Chantalyne Beausoleil

Pronouns: they/them
Identifies as: nonbinary

What do you love most about the LGBTQ+ community?

Chatalyne Beausoleil: Lately, I've been most in awe of the constant education received through queer relationships. Since the community is, at its core, full of folks who exist outside of cishet normative culture, I am constantly learning about new pathways to love and understanding of self through my peers.

How do you plan to celebrate Pride this year?

CB: I recently finished up a musical theatre degree (cringe, but extremely rewarding and life-altering). Disillusioned with the craft (a supposed safe haven for the gays) because of all the monstrosities the industry clings to, my friend and I embarked on a journey to create a piece of theatre that might make queer, neurodivergent youth feel seen and laugh. Lord knows that the queers deserve a giggle in this economy. Centering two closeted queer teens living with OCD, this show aims to destigmatize the complexities of coming out while navigating one's mental health through a comedic lens. We are so lucky to premiere this show: "Jinny and Jack VS the Thoughts in Their Heads," at the Ottawa Fringe Festival this Pride Month. This show is a love letter to my and my co-creator, Ryan Sutherland's younger selves. And we will, of course, celebrate at our local gay bar!

Lord knows that the queers deserve a giggle in this economy.

What are you most hopeful about right now?

CB: Widespread representation in the media is normalizing LGBTQ+ existence. While this doesn't mean that everything is perfect, it does mean that people have access to a wider variety of gender and sexuality variances that they might identify with. Space is being created for folks to begin questioning themselves and their identities. The number of friends I have who have come out in the past year or two is mind-boggling and quite beautiful.

What are you most fearful about right now?

CB: As a queer person living in Canada, I've been closely watching all the legislative steps backward that the U.S. has been taking with a great deal of fear. The rise in anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment has been on a rapid rise over here. And, while I am finding comfort and validation of my identity in the loving communities I have fostered, it is, to put it bluntly, terrifying to know that so many people believe that my existence should be illegal at the moment.

What's one thing you want straight allies to know?

CB: If you want to keep having your bachelorette parties at Drag Shows, you better step up your vocal, physical and monetary support of the LGBTQ+ community.

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Ryn Pfeuffer

Ryn Pfeuffer is a versatile print and digital writer specializing in sex, lifestyle, and relationship topics. She got her start in the mid-90s at the Philadelphia Weekly, managing a 10-page section of the newspaper and more than 500 lonely hearts.Her professional stock skyrocketed when she started writing a saucy (and pre-Carrie-Bradshaw-era) dating advice column called “Ask Me Anything.” She appeared regularly on local radio stations and late-night TV as an expert on everything from grooming...

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