Alright ya bunch of queers. We’re reaching the end of pride month. And if you’re like me, you’re hitting those post pride blues. So how can we keep the pride going? Well here’s the most buzzfeed-esque article I’ll ever write. Below are some of the songs, shows and books I recommend to keep the pride going all year. Or at least for a little longer.
I grabbed these from Spotify so if you’re listening from another platform I’m not sure how accessible these may be. Most of these are newer music and most are pretty upbeat even club style. But I had to put in a plug for Ben Platt of course. I mean, come on.
- Back In My Arms – by Carlie Hanson
- I Wanna Let Love – Aaron Porter
- 1,2,3 dayz up – Kim Petras feat. Sophie
- Don’t Hate Me for Me – Dizzy Fae
- Grow As We Go – Ben Platt
- Haus Party, Pt. 1 by Todrick Hall – definitely one of my favorite albums released this year. The entire thing is one gay anthem.
- The Prom, Original Soundtrack – yes, this is a musical. Maybe I’m biased because it’s about Indiana. Maybe I just want more queer musicals.
- Gentleman Jack; The Real Anne Lister by Anne Choma – Does this sound familiar? Well that’s probably because it’s currently a show on HBO and will be listed TWICE in this article. Honestly though, I recommend this twice because the book has more excerpts from her diaries. The story of Ann Lister is fascinating, and don’t worry, it WILL be covered on our podcast.
- Indecent Advances; A Hidden History of True Crime and the Prejudice Before Stonewall by James Polchin – The name says it all. If you’re a true crime fan and a queer history fan, then this is the book for you.
- The Stick McLaughlin Series by CF Frizzell, published by Bold Strokes Books – This series has been around a while but only recently came to my attention. I admit that when I started reading the first book I though it was cheesy. But then things quickly turned and I was sucked into a 1920’s-1930’s mob drama. Complete with all the lesbian romance a person could want. Check out boldstrokesbooks.com for tons of queer novels.
- On My Wish-list – Ordinary Girls by Jaquira Diaz – this book isn’t released until later this year. But it is the memoir of a queer woman who grows up in Puerto Rico before moving to Florida. She speaks of the pain of watching family struggle with addiction and acceptance. I’m all in.
- Tales of the City on Netflix – The show is a continued story and it is beautifully done. The way the cast and writers confront some of our biggest issues today – including racism and transphobia within the community – is necessary and flawlessly executed.
- Bonding on Netflix – As I said in one of my episodes, these people ripped off my story!! But seriously, this cute – super short – show, so accurately portrays the BDSM/Fetish community. I can’t recommend it enough.
- Gentleman Jack on HBO – It’s a period drama, based in history, following the life of Anne Lister. The first woman in England to record her marriage to another woman. Check. It. Out.
- Pose on Netflix – Yes I know it’s just the first season. But you need to get caught up! And if you’re already caught up, you need to re-watch and make sure you have all the details fresh in your memory.
- Disobedience on Amazon Prime – None of these movies are new, but who says they need to be. Disobedience is a love story between two women in a Hasidic Jewish community. Tantalizing and seductive, the only thing that would make this movie better is if the actresses were actually queer.
- Akron on Hulu – This story of two men unfolds in such an unexpected way. I won’t drop spoilers, so just go watch it.
- Professor Martson and the Wonder Woman on Hulu – we don’t know how historical accuracy of this film. Though we do know that the creator of Wonder Woman did live with his wife and his mistress. And we know the two women continued living together for decades after his death. Regardless, I love this positive portrayal of Polyamorous love.
- All In My Family on Netflix – This story follows the journey of an Asian gay man to find acceptance and understanding from his family.
- I Am Divine on Hulu – This is the incredible story of drag performer Divine, once named the Drag Queen of the Century.
- Bridegroom on Hulu – A moving tale of a man who loses his partner a horrific death, this story shows why marriage equality is so necessary.
And that’s all of my suggestions for now kids. Feel free to send others my way so we can pass along the information. And even though Pride Month is coming to a close, stay queer.
My first Pride celebration sober I went in with far too much confidence, and quickly lost it. I was just shy of 7 months clean when I took on one of the biggest alcohol events of the year.
Pride weeks are known for their heavy sale of liquor. Especially events such as the Providence Night Time Parade. Which is held in the evening, on a street lined with bars, and quickly followed by massive block parties. And don’t get me wrong, its fun – it’s REALLY fun. But alcohol and other party substances are EVERYWHERE.
And while most cities have purposefully made their parades early to avoid the heavy drinking, its still a problem no matter where one goes. I grew up outside of Chicago which is (in my opinion) the best parade in the country. But every year people were getting so trashed the city organizers kept moving the time of the parade earlier and earlier. It didn’t matter. Whether drunk at 2 in the afternoon or 10 in the morning, people love to get wasted on Pride day.
I’ve Been There.
Up until 4 years ago I was one of those wasted party members. I don’t remember most of the previous pride parades. Though I do know that one year I came to and found that I had wandered into the midst of the Chicago parade. I was marching down Halsted street in a rainbow bikini proudly waving a flag that I don’t remember purchasing. Everything was a blast, until I woke up the next morning and realized I had spent my rent money and had no idea what I did the night before
So four years ago – and newly sober -I headed to the Boston parade, decked out in full queer apparel. I quickly felt that I was in over my head. But managed to power through the pre-parade activities and was relatively distracted during the main event. Until we headed to the after parties. Immediately after paying my $20 entrance fee I regretted the decision.
I could feel my mouth literally salivating for a taste of alcohol. My eyes darted back and forth, wondering what drinks everyone was purchasing. I was on edge and short with my girlfriend. My teeth were nearly ground to bits. I felt trapped and panicked. I didn’t live in Boston and I didn’t know any people in the city, other than my current friends. Eventually I faded from the dance floor and found a quiet spot in the jammed packed bar to sip my Red Bull.
I managed to make it through that night. But I was attending the Providence Night Parade the following weekend and I determined I wouldn’t put myself in that position again. I contacted my sponsor and we came up with a plan. This is what I have done every Pride -and alcohol fueled event – since.
1. Plan Ahead
Take a few moments to answer these questions:
- How can I leave if I feel uncomfortable? – Do you have Uber or Lyft downloaded on your phone? Do you have a bus pass? Are you taking your own car? My first year was right before Uber really took off so that wasn’t a very accessible option. So instead, I looked up phone numbers of cab companies and had them saved in my phone. I also made sure I had enough money to pay the taxi.
- What will I say if someone offers me a drink? – You don’t owe anyone an explanation. Try saying you’re on a diet, or you’re not feeling well. Perhaps the excuse that you’re in training or you’re allergic to alcohol will get people off your back. You can also get a red bull or sprite. Ask the bartender to put the drink in a glass with some fruit. Most people wont offer anything if you have a drink in your hand.
- Where can I go to take a break? – If you’re at a bar or a house party, look for a spot you can dip out to if you need a break. Bring some cigarettes or a vape. Or you can have someone on back up to call you so you have a reason to be on your phone.
2. Be Honest
Not just with yourself. Be honest with your friends and sponsor.
- Be honest with you – My biggest problem my first year sober was that I wouldn’t acknowledge how I was actually feeling. I had to be willing to let some things, and people, go.
- Be honest with your sponsor or sober companion – Find someone to hold you accountable and tell them the truth. Let them know when you’re struggling. Again, you can’t do this unless you are first honest with yourself.
- Be honest with your partner or friend – No doubt you’ll spend Pride with other people who drink or use other substances. Sometimes this can hold us back from being honest because we don’t want to be a “buzzkill”. But chances are, if you’re sober, you’ve got people in your corner supporting this decision. Rely on these people, let them have your back. And if you can’t think of any friends who want you sober, then you might need to re-evaluate your friends.
3. Let Go
Let go of the person you were and experience a new person
- Be a new party animal – For so many years I believed I could only party if I was drunk or high. And my first Pride I stayed in that mindset. But the next year I tried again, and this time I let go of that old me. I had a blast. Last year was also fantastic and this year I expect my Pride partying to be the best pride yet. But I don’t party the way I use to. I’m more reserved, I’m not the center of attention, but I have fun.
- Realize other people aren’t watching you – You may be watching everyone else (because it’s fun AF to watch wasted people when you’re sober) but I promise they’re not watching you. So let go. Dance, sing along, get in the mosh pit, scream your head off. To be honest, that’s what everyone else IS doing so really you’re the odd person out if you’re not joining in.
- Enjoy being able to absorb the experience – Many people at the parades, bars, and block parties won’t remember the majority of events the next day. Like I said, I can’t remember most of my first four years of Pride. But I remember every detail of the last 3 years and there are so many moments that still make me smile. The gift of sobriety is that I can absorb the moment and hold those feelings with me. Embrace that gift.
So have a wonderful Pride Month my friends. And remember, you’re not alone and you don’t need a substance. To thine own self be true.
Don’t let this evening be a Silent Night. Instead, tune into our latest episode on A History of the Gay Men’s Chorus. After all, would it be The Most Wonderful Time of the Year without the serenading of queer voices?
I’ve been in retail for almost 10 years now and spent the majority of my time in management. I’ve worked in several different companies in at least 3 different states. And I say all that to say that I’ve had quite a bit of training in Human Resources and workplace discrimination policies. I guess I’ve always take my experience for granted and assumed that others would be as knowledgeable of their resources as I am. However, I often find that is not the case. So here’s a few basic tips on what to do if you think you’re being discriminated against in the workplace.
1. SAVE EVERYTHING
The first signs that things are going south usually start with write-ups/corrections/counseling or whatever term your company uses. Basically they’re starting to take steps towards termination. Now, of course, this doesn’t mean that every corrective counseling means you’re set for the boot. Perhaps you truly have some areas you could work on, and your employer or manager is just trying to get some better performance out of their colleagues. Don’t panic, but be aware.
And most importantly, save EVERYTHING they give you. Copies of schedules, write-ups, requests off, company guidelines and handbook. Most places are required to give their employees copies of all these items and you will need them if it goes to HR, mediation or court.
2. KEEP A JOURNAL
Factor in the tone and atmosphere of the office to see if there has been a shift in authorities attitude towards you. Write all of this down in a notebook, every little instance no matter how small it may seem. Again, this all matters and will benefit you in the end. This includes a change in your schedule (have your hours dropped? Did you switch from days to nights for no reason?). How about request’s off? (Are you suddenly finding all your requests denied even though you have the vacation or personal days to spend?). Is your boss making rude or sarcastic comments towards you? Are you suddenly being written up for issues that weren’t a problem in the past?
I have a friend who worked for a company for over 10 years. She was a good employee, but she had a bad habit of being late. And this was true in every area of her life, not just when it came to work. But because she was such a benefit to the company, they overlooked her tardiness. Now I’m not saying her lateness should have been excused, but I am saying the company and the manager had set a precedent. So when my friend came out as transgender to the company, it looked pretty suspicious that after 10+ years she was suddenly being written up for her tardiness.
But the write-ups didn’t start immediately. First she noticed a change in her supervisors attitude towards her. Then she overheard the staff making some inappropriate comments. Finally, she felt isolated and cut off from her work family. Then the write-ups began. I can’t say that a journal would have saved her as she did break company policy by continuing to be late. But I can tell you that evidence goes a long way.
3. FOLLOW THE RULES
I know. It feels like we’re forced to dot every i and cross every T just to avoid illegal termination. But the simple reality is, if your boss is looking for a reason to fire you, don’t give them one. I understand that my friend’s company set a precedence of ignoring her tardiness for over a decade. And that’s why she would have a legitimate case to bring to court, or at least to the HR department. However, at the end of the day, there’s still a handbook (which she probably signed) that boldly states tardiness is not permitted. If you have a weakness at work and you’re being targeted, focus on that weakness. In the long run it will do you a lot more good. But don’t stop there and simply tread water. Move to the next step.
4. UTILIZE YOUR HUMAN RESOURCE DEPARTMENT
I don’t know how many times I’ve talked to queer individuals who never reported their discrimination. There are federal laws in place that prohibit workplace LGBTQ discrimination. In addition, most states and most national and local companies also have these protections in place. YOU HAVE TO GO TO HR! The biggest fear people have about going to HR is retaliation from their team or supervisor. However, if you’re already being targeted then it’s too late to worry. You need to protect yourself and that means leaving a long paper trail. If you can prove you reported these issues then that’s more on your side for the future. Regardless of whether HR has your back or not, set yourself up to be legally protected.
Also, you may be very surprised to see that HR actually does care about your well-being. There is a reason companies develop and staff a human resource department. Now reporting may mean that some changes will occur. Perhaps you’ll be offered a transfer, or a position in another department. You are not required to take these offers. But maybe the change will be beneficial in the end. Or perhaps you’ll aid in the removal of an unhealthy supervisor.
If nothing comes from your report, again, request a copy. Keep it on file and continue to keep your journal. This is extra stress and worry, but in the end you are protecting yourself. Don’t let a company or a group of supervisors beat you into silence. If you are being unfairly treated, take steps to fight back. If all else fails, take this to a legal level.
5. REACH OUT FOR LEGAL AID
There are many companies out there that offer free legal aid for those who have been discriminated against at work. Utilize these resources. You are worthy of help and fair treatment. Don’t sulk away in fear and rejection. We are a resilient people! Dig deep for that strength inside of you and ask for help. Lamba Legal, GLAAD, the HRC, and more. Also, check out this link for the Huffington Post that lists a state-by-state directory of aid specifically for queer people of color.
There are so many ways we can stand up to workplace discrimination. You don’t have to take this lying down and you don’t have to face these attacks alone. If you’re still struggling or in need of advice, feel free to message us here or on social media @yourqueerstory. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Or email us at email@example.com. We’re always here to help.