Queer Pride Days are important. There are a number of reasons why, but the two reasons that stand out in my mind are these:
First, whether you are queer, straight, or somewhere in the middle, there is no denying that queer issues and questions of sexuality touch all of our lives. Second, I truly believe that everyone benefits from living in a society where a multitude and diversity of cultures are celebrated, and in which we can learn about and from each other.
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick writes in Epistemology of the Closet, “Modern Western culture has placed what it calls sexuality in a more and more distinctly privileged relation to our most prized constructs of individual identity, truth, and knowledge, [so] it becomes truer and truer that the language of sexuality not only intersects with but transforms the other languages and relations by which we know.” Sexuality is not only central to our society and culture as a whole, but is even becoming more significant, transforming the ways in which we live in and view the world. As human beings, we are sexual beings, and whatever our identities as sexual beings may be, issues and questions of queer identities (the meaning of which can encompass everything from queer-friendly to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, sadomasochistic, or simply different from the norm) inevitably have an impact on and an importance for all of us. On a very basic level, Queer Pride Days ask one to think about sexuality, in particular, one’s own sexuality. Exploring, identifying, changing, affirming and/or describing your sexual desires, disgusts and/or identities is vitally important to a richness and fullness of living and enjoyment of life.
Queer Pride Days at Williams during April, Queer Pride throughout the rest of the country during June, indeed, queer pride and queer communities all over the world, are undeniably valuable and enriching for all communities, societies and cultures. Not only because queer people are everywhere, but also because queer culture and community is inextricably intertwined with all other cultures and communities. It is as impossible to separate and create borders between the queer community and the Williams community (or the larger community outside of our purple bubble) as it is for any of us to draw these lines between the various identities within ourselves. The interconnections and overlaps between all cultures and communities mandate that we all embrace queer cultures and communities and see them and know them as a part of our own.
Queer Pride Days here at Williams are important because, like other clusters of events designed to promote awareness and pride for other minority groups, they offer those of us who have not had much exposure to queer culture, thoughts or even people; they are an opportunity to learn more and expand our minds. Another benefit of Queer Pride Days at Williams is the coalition-building and sense of fellowship and unity that occurs within the queer community. A stronger, more unified queer community can provide better support for its members and can be more confident of achieving its goals of visibility, equal rights and acceptance.
Happy Queer Pride.