This article is part of the Mercury's 2020 all-digital Queer Week coverage.

Dahlia Belle
Dahlia Belle Image courtesy of author.

Traditionally, any decent article written about PRIDE (capitalized for a maximum of fabulous ferocity) must begin with the words “In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York…” but I’ve never been good about following accepted conventions.

Besides, this is 2020. Nothing makes a whole lot of sense, and no amount of history seems to help.

Between a global pandemic, global quarantine, record unemployment, global recession, a possible depression, definite collective depression, murder hornets, locusts, hurricanes, the resurgence of fascism, global protests, riots, state sanctioned murders, and the fall of the Amerikkkan police state, everything seems pretty darn fresh and new.

As tempting as it may be to draw wild comparisons between various civil rights movements, today’s is (to my knowledge) unprecedented. There! I said it. Unprecedented: 2020’s Word of the Year. I hate to say it, but it’s true.

You know what else is unprecedented? You, your singularly unique existence, and all the many reasons to be proud of yourself. Listen. I’m not a historian, scholar, expert, voice of a generation, or anything else that might lend me some feigned sense of authority, but here are some things that I’m proud of…

I’m proud of my parents for allowing me the early freedom to express myself however I felt most comfortable. I’m proud of myself for being weird enough to warp, twist, and bend all that was expected of me decades before it was the thing to do. I’m proud of myself for unlearning homophobia. I’m proud of myself for setting healthy boundaries. I’m proud of myself for dismantling the toxic patterns of my past. I’m proud of myself for surviving as long as I have. I’m proud of my son. I’m proud of my ex-wife for recognizing the irreparable nature of our marriage and filing for divorce. I’m proud that as often as I’ve been beaten, I have never been defeated.

I’m also proud of you. Look at you! You’ve been through so much, and you’re still here. I’m so proud to see you followed through with your top surgery. I’m also proud of you for recognizing hormone replacement therapy just wasn’t the right fit for you. Cheers to you for getting off social media for a couple months. Do you even realize how important your presence has been at these protests? I don’t think you do.

How is it even possible that you, a Black woman, have managed to live for however long you have in a nation so firmly opposed to your existence without popping off or breaking down? You’ve earned a standing ovation.

Reducing the amount of meat in your diet was a real boss move, and then you quit smoking too. And we haven’t even gotten to cross-training. It’s wild to think you didn’t wear make-up until your late 40s, and you’ve already mastered the perfect cut crease. Bitch, you’re more than fierce.

You deserve your own theme song for getting out of bed this morning, even though you have nowhere to go. You even ate breakfast, brushed your teeth, and got dressed. I’m pretty sure you’re just showing off at this point.

You thought gender norms were bullshit a decade before you had ever heard the phrase “gender norms.” And you? You just graduated high school from home. You could have given up, but you kicked that drug habit for the seventh time.

Perhaps whatever you’ve done doesn’t seem like much to you, but there’s at least one person who admires you for it—even if that one person is a famously neurotic recluse writing a poorly thought out column for PRIDE.

Maybe it doesn’t seem like I’ve listed much specific to LGBTQIIA+, but you still did it. Being part of the community means you probably did it with less support. If you’re part of the community and blessed with melanin, you’ve likely done it with minimal support or acceptance from the larger community. You’ve done all these things without role models, without guidance, without family, without friends.

Chances are, you made history without needing to know the history of PRIDE, and I am so fucking proud of you.

Mx. Dahlia Belle is a stand-up comedian and incidental sexual liberation activist.