By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/TRT Columnist—
It’s June again and it’s Pride season. After living painfully in the closet for years, I can now enjoy days of celebration of finally coming to terms with and being proud of who I am, no more hiding my true self. To march and proclaim “I’m trans and I’m proud!” and feel wonderful about it after being repressed for years is truly a grand feeling. I’ve lived in my closet for five decades and am ecstatic about finally living true to my life.
If you note the attendance at Pride festivals, parades and marches, one can see that many other people feel the same way. There’s lots of us and our numbers are growing every year. Still, not everybody feels like we do. Why doesn’t everybody want to march and celebrate? I’ve always felt that there was a disconnect between trans people and Prides. Yes, there are trans folk such as myself who love to celebrate who we are, but I find that many trans folk avoid the celebrations.
I’ve heard that some trans folks feel unsafe at prides. I’ve also heard the exact opposite many times, how people say that they feel safe at prides and how they wish that every day could be like this. Safety in life outside of pride, however, is another thing. If you live in lower socio-economic environments, for example, it can be downright dangerous, and triple that if you live in an area with religious extremists, especially the ones who think that it should be okay to kill an LGBT person. I can understand where living on the down low or living in the closet may be a wise choice in that case, but this is all the more reason for that same person to come to Pride and march in a parade. Just for that one day, being who they are and being proud could do wonders for them. [pullquote]I’ve heard that some trans folks feel unsafe at prides. I’ve also heard the exact opposite many times, how people say that they feel safe at prides and how they wish that every day could be like this. Safety in life outside of pride, however, is another thing.[/pullquote]
At Northampton Pride, I was marching with my trans support group, UniTy. I decided to try out a new chant that I had borrowed and modified from an old James Brown song: “Say it loud! I’m trans and I’m proud!” I chanted it and was listening to hear if other folks were chanting with me. The only other person I heard was Lorelei Erisis, who writes the other trans column for The Rainbow Times (Thank you, Lorelei!). There may have been others who joined in on the chant, but the only voices I heard were mine and Lorelei’s. Why weren’t more trans people chanting these words loudly? After all, it was a pride march, wasn’t it? Maybe some trans folk really aren’t proud of who they are?
I believe that in order to have pride in yourself, you have to accept and love yourself. It’s a tough road being trans, and dealing with it takes a lot of work. I know. I’ve been there, done that, and bought the tee shirt.
I am a firm believer in being out and proud. I could have been Harvey Milk’s daughter. I love Prides and pride marches. They are a great time to be out with no worries about dealing with judgment and hate, plus you get to meet old friends and catch up with them. More importantly, they show visibility to the public to help obtain our civil rights and show everyone that we are a part of this big world, just as they are. Most importantly, they are wonderful outlets to feel good about yourself.
Before I went to Prides, I did not feel good about myself at all. I felt ashamed, guilty, confused, and overall just very bad about who I was. I didn’t love myself. What could I do? A big part of my answer was found in going to Prides and Pride marches, through which I could finally release my demons and be free to be myself. I have now totally accepted that I am female and that I am trans, and I now love who I am. It’s a wonderful accomplishment to get to the point where you love yourself. That is where I found my peace. I hope that everyone will find theirs.
*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is a local transwoman who has three grown children and works at 3M. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.