The other day, with a thunderstorm ruining my plans to venture out en femme, I decided instead to head down to my building’s basement. It’s obviously not the most glamorous locale in my building, let alone the world, but the pale color of the concrete walls that help keep our apartments upright are a nice background for a fashion shoot.
And just what am I wearing here? Well, let’s start off with the skirt. Back at Christmastime, I received a nice gift card from Kohl’s department stores. With the $40 on that card burning a big hole in my wallet by the time spring rolled around, I figured it would be a nice way to help build the summertime portion of my feminine wardrobe. Luckily, I found a perfect addition in this navy blue Apt. 9 maxi-skirt.
The rayon/polyester material of this skirt may feel rough to the touch, but that’s the least of the least of your worries (yes, I know what I just typed there). The warmer months are not meant for heavier fabrics, meaning knit sweaters and leathers may be a bit too daring and possibly not the smartest fashion decision. So it’s best to have more comfortably lightweight items in your possession. A maxi-skirt creates a feel of femininity but not being too dowdy, or at least that’s how I see it. Above all, this is perfect for lounging on the patio and chatting with (or at least putting up with) your friends, family, and neighbors during an early evening cookout.
You’ll also notice the shirt I’m wearing with this maxi-skirt, and right above is a better look at it. Ragstock, which has a location on State Street in downtown Madison, is known for its retro and resale clothing. But they do set aside some room for rainbow-hued or similar items that are perfect for LGBT Pride Month. This shirt was just one such item I found a few years ago. Yeah, it may be a little big on me (it’s from a time where “large” was still my shirt size of choice). And, yeah, the rainbow may be upside down; when you usually see a pride rainbow, you notice that the warmer colors are on the top of the display and the cooler colors are down below. Still, this shirt looks awfully cute on me.
Oh, and speaking of Ragstock… since this is now June, it’s for sure that they’ll have their pride-specific and rainbow items prominently on display right now. I was at Ragstock not too long ago and found a couple of nice pride-themed shirts in medium size. I can’t wait to wear them this summer, if not this month.
Now that the fashion portion of this post is out of the way, it’s time to do some thinking, like how I’m thinking in the above photo: As I write this, it’s the 2nd day of June 2019. This month marks the golden anniversary of the most famous, most important event in the LGBT+ community, the uprising at New York City’s Stonewall Inn. Exactly one year after that, New York’s streets were active again, not with rage or protest but with pride and positive resistance. It was New York’s first Pride March. It was also the start of something: Smaller yet similar marches took place that year in Chicago and Los Angeles, with other marches in other cities the year after that.
Now, in 2019, you’ll need an adding machine to count the number of pride parades and similar events, both large and small in size, that occur around the world. Perhaps your town has already had its own LGBT pride event (they don’t just occur in June, you know). Here in Madison, we’ve had pride events for several years, with it taking the form of a parade up State Street the past few years every August. This August, however, we’ll have not a parade but a festival instead.
Still, however, June is a big and very important month to have pride events. Milwaukee, for one, will have its PrideFest next weekend, while the likes of Seattle and Toronto stretch out their major pride-related events throughout the entire month.
For sure, this is a time of not only celebration but also retrospection: Fifty years ago, the gay, bisexual, and lesbian community were considered an immoral segment. Ours was a community that an unforgiving hetero- and gender-normative society had their way with in terms of keeping us in a closet or, worse, punishing us just for being who we are and loving who we love.
While those early morning hours at Stonewall, and the other incidents that occurred there in the subsequent days, were far from the first uprisings by our community against oppression and brutality by the authorities. (A not-quite-as-famous uprising occurred in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district years earlier.) Still, they were the powderkeg moment in our community’s struggle for respect and acceptance. And, oh boy, have we earned acceptance in the half-century since June 1969. We’ve had the likes of Harvey Milk stand as our defenders. We’ve seen ordinances and laws that prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation (such as here in Wisconsin), with laws against gender identity discrimination in some locales coming later. We’ve seen positive representations of our community in news, drama, and history recollections. And of course, we’ve seen laws and rulings around the world that ensure one’s right to wed the person they love regardless of that person’s gender, from Europe to Canada, to here in the U.S. in 2015, to more recent news in Taiwan, which became the first Asian nation to make same-sex marriage legal.
But for all those gains, there are those who are still want to push our proud LGBT+ community back into the proverbial closet. In many countries, we face discrimination, legal punishment… and worse. We are physically attacked, tortured, an even murdered all because of who we are, who we love, how we identify, and live openly while doing so. And in many of these places, this hatred is endorsed through the blind eye or outright approval of those in authority. As a result, in these locales our community finds no effective place to turn to for safety, shelter, and support.
And even here in the United States, the home of Stonewall and the nation where we’ve gained so much in the past 50 years, our broad community is still facing the erection of walls. Sure, marriage equality is the rule of the land. But the trans and gender-nonconforming community still fears for our safety and the endangering of our rights and respect. Just one case in point: Our current government, which has the audacity to bar proud military service members from serving in the defense of their country, foster a broad culture of hatred against us… and then turn around and claim they have respect for the broad LGBT+ community. (Give him hell, Sam Bee and Company.)
It is for certain that we still have a long, long row to hoe. But that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate how far our community has come and how much we have gained. Despite the best efforts of those who will do anything to wish us back into the closet, if not completely out of existence, we won’t be going anywhere. Sure, many of us would wish that the rest of the world would see past our gender or sexual identity; it’s that want of respect and/or desire for safety that make some of us hide who we are. I myself am not out as a crossdresser to my professional colleagues or family.
But for at least one day each year (if not the whole darn month), we in the broad LGBT+ community can take pride in who we are, who we love, how we identify, and how others in this normally unforgiving world respect and love us no matter what. I’m so proud to have gained acceptance through the CD/trans support group I’m a part of, as well as my online friends.
And during this momentous month of pride, as well as during Madison’s pride event in August (barring something unforeseen), I’ll take joy in showing to the world that, though they may dismiss me or outright disdain me, I’ll show my true colors, in however small or large way possible, and tell the world that I’m a proud part of the LGBT+ community. No matter how you may identify, here’s hoping you get to show your true colors as well. Happy Pride Month, peoples!