It’s Pride month! In addition to the over-commercialisation of Pride by brands and companies, it’s also a time of reflection for the queer community on our experiences and what being queer means to each of us.
Pride month can be a time where we think back to the beginning of our journey, whether that is coming out or your queer awakening, and the complicated feelings that are associated with first times:
“It is hard to recall first times as a queer person. While they carry a lot of nostalgia, they also come with trauma and baggage. When I had my first kiss with a girl, it felt like we were both characters performing. It was a starry night, that was one of our points of discussion. I had never wanted to kiss someone that bad. After we kissed, I had to walk her downstairs, through my parents, out the door and come back up, feeling like I was carrying the government’s deepest secrets.”
For some of us, Pride is a reminder of our lack of ‘firsts’, or meaningful ‘firsts:
“I’m 20 years old and have known I was a lesbian since I was 13. I was drunkenly kissed by my ex-best friend at 16. But, I still haven’t had a meaningful kiss. I just think that those of us who are still waiting for our stories, who didn’t get a Heartstopper-style teenage love, deserve some representation and hope. I deserve stories that are wonderful, humiliating, and heart-breaking because I don’t want my life as a queer person to be full of waiting.”
It’s important to acknowledge this and the importance of representation as for a lot of queer people, our sexual and romantic experiences occur on a different or delayed time-scale. This can be because it takes some time for us to figure out our sexuality, or because we’re uncomfortable to come out due to heteronormative societal pressures.
For others, it can be a time where you look back to some of your firsts, like asking someone out for the first time:
“I was in class with this girl that I had always thought was cute but I was in denial of my sexuality so I never said anything. However, I did inadvertently ask her on the gayest date possible: after showing her ‘Hit the Back’ by King Princess and listening to it with the same headphones, I asked her to go to Glasgow with me to see her in concert.”
Or the uncertainty of first dates:
“My first ‘date’ was only assigned that title retrospectively. It was December 2019 and I was lingering in the murky fog of the ‘are we more than friends?’ phase which is particularly characteristic of queer dating. I had bought two tickets to a Clairo gig a couple of months before and decided to ask her if she’d like to come. Neither of us acknowledged that it was a date at the time, but two and half years into our relationship, tracing the timeline back, we both agreed that it definitely was.”
Readers, here’s a piece of advice in case you don’t know how to ask someone out or signal your sexuality to someone while you are in the ‘are we more than friends?’ phase. Asking them to come along to a queer artist’s concert makes it pretty clear that yes this is a date.
It can also be a time for reminiscing on our queer love stories:
“We’ve all heard or experienced the ‘one that got away’ or ‘right person, wrong timing’ stories. I think the likelihood of that rises in queer relationships, perhaps because some of us are always running away. For me it happened last summer; not in an alt gay club, or a cool artsy event. It happened in my home town, the place I always run away from, at a viewpoint, on the pavement at 3am, locked out of car without pants, the cops conveniently passing by, as I was falling in love.”
Or how you met your partner:
“I study performing arts, and one day in first year my teachers took my class to an experimental live art performance. The performance was built around offering the audience members real money to do things onstage. Things like: write a poem onstage, breakdance, sing a little. For like £20, £30 each. I wanted to go up, so I wrote a wee poem and got £20. But as it went on things got a lil more risqué. The artist offered £100 each for two people to get onstage and passionately kiss with each other. I was tempted. But before I could two women got up and got the money. After that, the artist walks off stage and comes back dragging a bare mattress. He says he wants two audience members to come down, get fully naked, and pretend to fuck onstage for £250 each. You could hear a pin drop in the audience. But before I know it, I’m raising my hand and coming down to the stage … in front of a large audience that includes my whole class and some tutors. So, I stand on stage while the artist tries to get someone else up to join me. After a minute, a guy comes down and joins me. We’ve met before but don’t know each other that well … but he’s cute. We strip down and start to pretend to fuck onstage, but before we can start we’re given one more instruction: we have to look each other in eyes when possible and shout ‘I love you!’ as much as possible. So we do, it’s a bit awkward but very funny. We then collect ourselves, get dressed and claim our money and go back to the audience. After the show we’re in the foyer laughing about it and saying we should go out for a drink. The next week he gives me a text and we start dating. It lasted a few months and was very fun, and is definitely my favourite dating story to tell.”
Unfortunately for some, this means also remembering dates you don’t want to remember – the funny ones, the embarrassing ones, and the plain horrible ones:
“We were getting brunch and from across the table he showed me videos of himself getting fisted.”
Or inappropriate first dates:
“A tutor from one of my courses messaged me on Grindr and asked to hook up. I said I’d prefer to get to know him first, and the next day he asked to meet in his office. I insisted on a coffee date instead, and when we met he said “Wow, you’re not as big a drama queen as you seemed online”. I blocked him on the way home.”
Or awkward dates that lead nowhere:
“On our first date we went on a two-hour walk and talked about poetry, the state of the world, and what it means to be happy. When he dropped me off at home, he tried to shake my hand. I asked for a hug, but he just sighed “I didn’t think you’d be that kind of guy”. We never spoke again.”
Or having sex in a car:
“There’s a lot of head to window bumping, twisted limbs, unwanted visitors. Now if you see someone that lives with their parents, having small injuries that seem to be completely unexplainable, you can safely assume they were having car sex. They try to rip your underwear and create a deep friction cut on their finger for instance. Or you go a little too hard too fast and somebody bumps their head hard enough to get a concussion. You lose a condom and hope no one else will find it. True stories”
And then kill the car battery:
“We hooked up in my car and killed the battery listening to his playlist. We had to call his family at 4am to call the road service for us because our calls wouldn’t go through to the hotline. The guy who showed up to jump-start my car politely asked if I’d left my lights on. I said “yes, of course, happens to me all the time”.
While pride can be a painful time for some, it can also be a time of celebration of all things queer. It’s important for us to embrace the complexities of what this month can mean to different individuals in our community, and how it encourages us to reflect on our identities and experiences.