Pride, Revisited

About 11 months ago, I wrote a post about pride and how I just didn’t understand the whole concept. Allow me to live nearly a year, reread an Orson Scott Card book, and come back to the subject, armed with a quote:

“Interesting,” said Ender. He didn’t sound like he felt flattered, or like he was acting modest – Ender truly sounded like he thought of his unusual talent for talking with the gold bugs as a simple fact.

When he thought about it, this made sense to Abra. You shouldn’t be proud of being good at something, if you were born with it. That would be as dumb as being proud of having two legs, or speaking a language, or pooping.

Because he was with Ender, Abra felt free to say what he had just thought of, and Ender laughed. “That’s right, Abra. Something you work to achieve, that’s one thing. Why not be proud of it? Why not feel good about it? But something you were born with, that’s just the way you are.”[1]

My overall decision in March of 2012 was that, while I totally respected someone’s feelings of pride regarding who they were, it simply didn’t make any sense to me to be proud of who I am, when it wasn’t something I had anything to do with. I can understand Ender’s lack of pride for his ability, when he has never worked at developing it, but I imagine that if it were a skill he had worked to gain, he would feel differently.

I found myself baffled recently, then, when reading QueerSecrets, because I found myself inexplicably proud of all these people who had submitted secrets. I mean, it’s a secret. Generally speaking, there is no identifying information attached to the secret. When there is, it’s an inside joke or a reference that very few people would get; the likelihood of those people reading the secret and knowing that it was about them or from a friend is pretty low. Most of these people aren’t out in their offline lives. Many aren’t even out online.

And yet.

I am so proud of these people. Maybe they aren’t officially out, but this can be a first step. It is a decisive step in combating the queer-shaming that much of the world has thrown at them. They are saying, look, world, I am queer. You don’t know who I am yet, but you know that there’s another queer person out there. They’re saying, I have been bullied for being out and that’s not okay. They’re saying, I am queer and I love someone. They’re voicing their thoughts and feelings, the good and the bad, and even when there’s not a name attached, there’s a lot of power in that, especially since all of these secrets are in the same place. Look, world; look at how many queer secrets there are. Look at how many of those secrets are celebrations of love and being out and being yourself. Look at how many of those secrets are declarations that bullying still happens, that heterosexism and cissexism are still happening, and that these things are not okay.

My feelings on this subject haven’t really changed, but I think I’ve opened up my definitions a little bit. I still find no particular pride in being queer, but I am proud that I am out about it and in some small way hopefully making being queer easier for someone else. Every time I write another post that talks about being queer, I’m proud of what I’ve done, of what it might accomplish. Every time I read a post talking about queerness – or accessibility, or anything – I am proud of whoever wrote it, whoever read over it before it was posted, whoever played any role in helping that post be written and published and acted on.

Even when your name is not attached to a secret, it is still an action – and I am proud of every action and every person behind it. Being queer is who you are, but acting on it, accepting yourself despite other people’s opinions, sharing your queerness openly, even asking for help or admitting your confusion and fear – these are all things you have worked to achieve. Be proud of it. Feel good about it.

[1] Card, O. S. (2008). Ender in Exile. New York, NY: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

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