Pride Profiles, June 1, 2020
In June 2020, I published one flash essay per day on Instagram, each a profile of a queer person who had personally influenced me. Some of these profiles are accompanied by the artwork of friends.
You scared me, even with your boyish face and, in later years, your artsy-fartsy glasses. You wore your rage like crown, sometimes weary from the effort, at others radiant, exuberant. You loved attention, like a Kindergartener kicking the chair of the desk in front of you. And, wow, they (we) hated you for it.
I didn’t know you, but you saved me. My rage sputtered out at inappropriate times—dinner parties, pep rallies, work meetings. Yours did too—at dinner parties, Catholic masses, medical symposiums. Years later, I heard the stories of your bad behavior, and I cringed, while smiling internally at your gall. I could never be so bold.
You won, even as you and your community lost everything, after your soldiers were long dead. And you kept fighting, because there is no end, no winning. The war grew like a bubble, encompassing millions, until we were stronger than we knew, until we could stand and say loudly, “I do,” until we could come out and out and out and out and out. You cleared the forests with your rage, and there we were, your children, standing tall in bright light.
When you died, I sucked in my breath and let it out slowly, carefully, and then I texted my family, my wife and daughter, because I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t know you, but I am one of your children, a member of the messy family you collected and discarded and pulled close to you again. Your anger sings to me: Go. Fight. The last notes of your song will ring through my body until the end of me.