In 1952, the American Psychiatric Administration listed homosexuality in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) as a psychiatric disorder, supposedly bought about by a fear of the opposite sex due to trauma. This view was widely influential among the medical community as well as the general population, and remained in the DSM until 1973.
When I was 13 I was caught kissing another girl by my grandmother, and I was scolded and told how disgusting I was, and was told that I was never allowed to see her again. My parents were homophobic despite me having many openly gay friends from a young age. This had a huge effect on me as a developing teenager who was discovering her sexuality, because I was made very well aware that I would not be welcome in the family home if I was in a relationship with someone of the same gender. My mother insisted that it was ‘just a phase’, something that I would grow out of as if it was a bad habit. Apparently old habits die hard then, huh.
I met Kitten when I was 17 years old, and we fell in love a few years later. She lived with her parents (who were also homophobic) and so we had to keep our relationship a secret from them, and the majority of her friends. For five years this carried on, her internalized homophobia manifesting itself in guilt, shame and finally resentment towards me. I was still madly in love with her, and I understood, so I stayed even though it felt like I was being stabbed in the guts constantly. We parted ways not long ago, and I am still working through the ensuing rejection and trust issues with a therapist, which is helping.
Pride is always a strange time for me, charged with emotion; A bittersweet day of loss, remembrance, celebration and defiance. I was never able to celebrate properly because my girlfriend was ashamed of me, and ridiculed within the community for attending with a boy. Bi-phobia is a real issue within the LGBTQIA+ community, as we are vilified because we have the ‘privilege’ of being able to pass as straight, scornfully dismissed as just ‘doing it for attention’ among other things. However despite the judgmental undertones, I found community and acceptance within the queer population, and spending time at gay clubs and bars was about the only time that I was able to be myself without the fear of having things thrown at me from car windows or being followed by pervy voyeurs while I held hands with my girlfriend. I remember earlier this year when the bombings happened at the Orlando nightclub how it really hit home, and I was crying on the floor unable to describe to anyone just how easily it could have been the people that I loved, just trying to find connection and freedom from the oppression of daily life.
Despite the overwhelming support and turnout at the pride parades around the world, not many people actually know the significance of the parade. Commemoration of those within the community who died from AIDS and homophobic attacks. Rallying for marriage equality among other political issues. Dressing up and dancing on a float isn’t just a fun thing, it is another way of creating a spectacle that screams
NOW DO YOU SEE US.