Reflections on Pride, not Prejudice
by Melissa Moore on Jun 2, 2022
Happy Pride, y’all! I’m proud to be a Genderqueer Raised In The South (GRITS), and I want to remind other GRITS, all the beautiful identities under the queer* umbrella, and all those who uplift our community that our existence is our RESISTANCE.
I am blessed to make a living doing work that is deeply personal to me at an organization that fights with and for LGBTQ+ people, and alongside a community that inspires me daily. WREN is a core member of the SC United Coalition Justice and Equality Coalition, a group that advocates for the passage of legislation to protect the LGBTQ+ community and opposes anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. This has been a hard year for the coalition and the LGBTQ+ community at large in South Carolina, especially for transgender children and their supporters. The story pouring from my heart after this brutal legislative session is not animated by hate or the prejudices of people who fear and misunderstand us; it is about love, community care, solidarity, and collective power.
Though queer people are often written out of the historical record, we have always been at the forefront of social movements, and this year has been no different. It was trans women of color who birthed the Pride movement, and in SC it was trans people and our accomplices, shaped in the molds of our TRANScestors, who held it down at the statehouse all session. We showed up in full force to fight for LGBTQ+ justice, abortion rights, and the teaching of truthful history in our schools. We marched in the streets waving our flags. We rallied at the statehouse and packed the galleries. We shared our tearful testimonies during subcommittee hearings where our humanity was attacked and identities mocked. We grieved together. We took care of each other. We stood on the front lines with non-LGBTQ+ accomplices who weathered attacks as legislators declared war on us. And we laughed until our bellies ached.
I stand in awe of my colleagues like Ashley Lidow, who is one of the fiercest lobbyists for gender justice that I have ever witnessed, and Ann Warner who reminded us that real feminism is trans-inclusive. Advocates showed up continuously to fight the deluge of discriminatory bills zooming through the SC legislature this session that not only attacked LGBTQ+ people, but jeopardized access to abortion care and harmed students of color, teachers, and other people “living in the margins of the margins,” as advocate Kym Smith says. Through all of this, we still managed to pass Paid Family Leave for State Employees and the Pharmacy Access Act.
The road ahead is going to be long and perilous, but those who are closest to the trauma are closest to the healing. If Roe falls, we know that all civil rights jurisprudence dating back Loving is at risk, which could threaten LGBTQ+ marriage equality and interracial marriage. As we face an uncertain future together, I know that we will win because we are right, we will take care of each other, and we will stand in cross-movement solidarity. I hope everyone in this beautiful, complicated south will choose intersectional organizing over working in silos and pride over prejudice, eventually. I have to believe we will.
* “Queer” is an in-group term that some LGBTQ+ people have reclaimed as part of their identities. Unless someone identifies as queer, non-LGBTQ+ should not use the term because it could be perceived as a slur.