Savannah 'Savy' Hanson wrote this piece as a volunteer for Pride observing the events of this summer's (2017) Pride celebration. She is head of security at the Duluth Flame Nightclub, and values the safety of our community, it's unity, and all letters/etc of the LGBTQ+ alphabet. She hopes to be present at the upcoming Prism discussion on this topic, and hopes to make Pride feel more cheerful, exciting, and safe for all involved.
If you were to ask me how Pride went last year I would have had said something cheerful and exciting, in the face of the tragedy at Pulse Nightclub. I would have said how amazing it was to work for a great LGBT+ business, and how much fun it was.
Though I am still working for a great LGBT+ business, my experience this year has been different to say the least. I looked on in pain while community members were abusive toward each other. .
Domestic abuse, sexual assault, transphobia, and a lack of participation have become prevalent topics in here in the Northland LGBTQ+ community. These issues impacted my experience at Pride this year, and many, many others felt their impact as well.
The reality is anyone can be a perpetrator of domestic abuse or sexual assault, despite their position or social status. The reality is our spaces and events are being eliminated one by one because the L (lesbians) and the T+ (transgender, gender non-conforming, etc), aren’t involved or included. The reality is we are losing are momentum to keep fighting for our right to exist, because we aren’t fighting together.
There isn’t less of a fight to be fought, I know firsthand that homophobia, transphobia, and oppression of the LGBTQ+ is still here and loud. Pride Weekend 2017 included the presence of two people who thought it was appropriate to walk up and down the street with baseball bats, during the night of Party X at local queer bars.
I saw my security staff deal with being called “faggot” and “dyke,” on top of being misgendered for the duration of the weekend. We cannot forget there are people who would rather us exist in silence or not exist at all. We are still not done fighting.
I was trying very hard to find volunteers to make the events happen at all this year. One of the comments I received when asking for help with volunteers was, “I just want to go for the fun.” Well, so do I. So do most LGBTQ+ folks.
But we are still not done working. Fun does not just happen. ‘Fun’ for the past 31+ years in our community has looked like a committee and volunteers dedicating themselves and their time to their community.
Fun also does not happen when we aren’t inclusive of one another. It does not happen when we do not stick up one another. There is still so much work to be done so that we can truly have a good time.
There are so many ways we can pull our community together and make it through this fight stronger, happier, and with more fun for everyone. It just takes more willingness to volunteer (the more volunteers, the shorter the volunteer shifts), effective communication, and effort to connect as a community.
If you would like to see Pride be the inclusive, educational, fun event in future, please come help us make it that way. Prism is going to be hosting a conversation to try and get ideas and synergy flowing for next year. Pride Committee meetings are done for this year, but will start up again closer to Pride.