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Message to Allies: How Not to be a Weirdo During Pride Month

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It’s that time again – Pride! In remembrance of the LGBTQIA+ community who sparked a nation-wide gay rights movement after the Stonewall uprising in the late 1960s, you might already have noticed that sections of your town or city are decorated with rainbow flags and welcome signs, streets and sidewalks are painted with rainbows, your baseball team may even be wearing rainbow-colored socks (which their bigoted fans are currently arguing on the internet about). If you aren’t seeing signs of Pride month in your town, you need to move far, far away because you live in a sad, sad place. But I digress…

All month, there are Pride-related events – festivals and parades and parties and drag shows. As an ally, you may want to attend these events, and you probably feel pretty proud of yourself for all your “wokeness,” which means you have no clue about just how problematic and down-right annoying you are. As an ally and a former weirdo at Pride events, let me offer you some advice so you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did.

Noah Berger/Associated Press

No matter how many books you’ve read, how many podcasts you’ve listened to, and how many Tumblr pages you’ve double-tapped, you’re still problematic.

You just have to accept the fact that you are problematic. No, you aren’t as problematic as the guy white women and men voted into the White House, but you’ve probably still got a little learning to do. Kudos to you for educating yourself, questioning your beliefs, and trying to be a better person — you should feel proud of yourself – however, there are just some things you will get wrong, and it’s okay. If somebody checks you about it, take the lesson, nod, smile and grow from it.

You’re a guest, so act accordingly.

At many of these Pride events, a good time will be had by all. There will be plenty of Beyoncé, some good ole fashioned twerking and voguing, and you are going to want to join in the fun. You should, but remember, ain’t nobody come to see your straight-ass duck-walk, so chill.

I get it, you're excited & want to be supportive, but remember, the LGBTQIA+ community has been getting on fine without you since Moses parted the sea. One of the best things you can do as an ally is to let people live in peace. Click To Tweet

You’re a straight, we get it, now be quiet.

You are in a space populated by everyone on the sexual identity spectrum, and the assumption is that your sexual identity does too. If your sexual identity is firmly planted at cisgender hetero, that’s all well and fine. It is quite okay to be okay with that. However, don’t spend the day announcing to everyone that you are a straight. I know you think it’s cute or whatever, but it’s not. Ugh, I am literally cringing as I write this reflecting on how stupid I was. Woooo chile…the ghetto!

Save your questions and insights for Twitter

I remember when I first heard the word Trade. I happened to be a Pride event, and I was so intrigued. I was so curious that I proceeded to spend the rest of the day grilling my lovely companion about the history and origin of Trade. If that wasn’t bad enough, I then proceeded to point out every gentleman to verify if he would be considered Trade. Imagine you are at a party having a good time and your weirdo friend keeps tapping your shoulder pointing out men asking, “Oh, oh, is he one? With the baseball cap and the sagging pants? He’s Trade, right?” I was so clueless, just a whole mess. It was cute that I learned a new word, but Pride events are not the place to get your education (unless you’re at an educational workshop, which I was not). Chances are you will hear some new word or lingo that you aren’t familiar with; it is okay to be curious. My advice – create a new document on your Notes app, type the word down for research purposes later and keep the party going. Don’t stop the good time trying to learn some shit.

Photo Credit: Eric Cash

Don’t be a cliché

It is inevitable that you will be overcome with the sheer fabulosity of it all. Before you can stop yourself, the ‘Yesssssss Queeeeeeen’ is going to jump out of you. Sometimes, this is appropriate like at a drag show, a contest, or maybe a performance. Please don’t be that person that ‘Yesssssss Queeeeeeeen’’s every boy in a belly shirt and booty shorts you pass. A compliment is fine, but don’t be a weirdo about it. There is a huge difference. People get all dressed up to be noticed, not to be your spectacle, feel me?

Allyship is a slippery slope. It’s a thin line between being an ally and a weirdo, believe me, I’ve crossed it more times than I care to admit. Mostly, we are well-meaning people, but being an ally is a process. It’s about taking ownership over building trust with the community we wish to align ourselves with, and this requires consistency, accountability, and yes, a little humility. And I get it, you are excited, and you want to be so supportive, but remember, the LGBTQIA+ community has been getting on fine without you since Moses parted the sea, and one of the best things you can do as an ally is to just let people live in peace.

What other tips can you share to make people better allies?

 

Featured Image Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels

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Alexandra Shipp Doesn’t Understand Colorism and It Shows

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Alexandra Shipp is suffering from the same light-skin plight that Tinashe claimed stifled her career two years ago. Oh well…

After hearing that KiKi Layne was in talks to step into her queendom as Storm, Alexandra Shipp wasted no time chiming in on Twitter. Her hot garbage take has since sparked yet another conversation about colorism in Hollywood. Alexandra stated, in so many words, that Black people aren’t supporting her because of her skin tone. Proving she, like so many, does not understand colorism as a system of oppression, Alexandra makes it clear there’s still work to be done.

You see, Alexandra, no one is attacking you for having light skin. They’re simply expressing joy over the much-anticipated portrayal of Storm as she was intended — a dark-skin, beautiful Black woman. This was a monumental opportunity for you to offer praise. Instead, you chose self-pity because a skilled actress is taking a role you aren’t entitled to. Let’s look at receipts, shall we?

KiKi Layne has been nominated for:

  • The Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Best Breakthrough Performance
  • The Gotham Independent Film Award for Breakthrough Actor
  • The Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble.

You, Alexandra, have been nominated for a Teen Choice Award and a Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award.

Because you, and others who look like you, have not had to search for representation to feel included, you may not know how to respond to this. I get it, You think you worked hard, earned that role, did it justice. Sorry, baby, but you thought wrong. The one-time wife of T’Challa deserves to be a dark-skin queen and there’s nothing you should do about it.

It’s bigger than you.

For two decades, we have waited for the mantle of Storm to be assumed by a woman who truly looks like her. For once, little Black children who share that skin-tone would feel seen as they look upon their favorite superhero. Imagine children looking at Storm the way they knew her and the way they thought they could be; strong, beautiful, dark-skinned, and more talented than you.

Furthermore, your conflict with the change in the cast should not be conflated with other pressing issues. Don’t weaponize Black Lives Matter to represent losing a job because you’re talentless. Where is your grace, queen? You’ve been coasting on mediocrity in an industry that has made you proud of your light-skin privilege. Now that dark-skin is profitable, the industry is accepting of some actresses with melanin more popping than yours, and you want to play the victim? Ms. “90 percent of the racism I’ve experienced in my lifetime has been at the hands of fellow Black people.”

Girl, bye.

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Protests Ensue Over Death of Jameek Lowery

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Jameek Lowery streamed his final moments as he sought assistance from officers in a Paterson, New Jersey station. Having passed in police custody, community members and family want answers.

Scared and Alone

Jameek Lowery was disoriented, foaming at the mouth, and shoeless. Asking for water and visibly unsettled, 27-year-old Jameek admitted he’d taken ecstasy just moments earlier. Hoping officers would help him find proper care, Jameek trusted them with his life.

Police say they called an ambulance and accompanied him to St. Joseph’s Hospital, but what happened during transport is unclear. The Passaic County Prosecutor claims although hospital records do not indicate acute trauma, Jameek suffered physical force and compliance holds during the ride. While transport took between five and twelve minutes, the prosecutor alleges that Jameek was unresponsive upon arrival. Jamir King, Jameek’s brother, says Lowery suffered a fractured eye socket and broken cheekbone after the recording.

We want answers now!

Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale maintains everything that could be done to help Jameek was.

 “They will do the autopsy, everything will come up and then we’ll know where we stand, and the answers will be given to you. I want you to have those answers. Right or wrong, I want you to have those answers.”

Jerry Speziale, Paterson Police Director

Unhappy with what Paterson Police have provided since Jameek’s death Saturday, protests have ensued. Hawk Newsome of Black Lives Matter attended the Tuesday night protest, providing his support to the family and commenting on what he knew so far.

“He was extremely paranoid, he was terrified, and he had no shoes on. What I did notice was his face looked good and within a few hours he was dead.”

Hank Newsome, Black Lives Matter of Greater New York

City Council members were also present during the protests, providing comfort to the family as they begged for answers. Lowery’s sister Jamilia Laurie said, “My heart hurts, I can’t explain how I feel because I don’t know how I feel. I can’t go to sleep at night. I’ve been up since this happened. I cannot sleep.”

Justice for Jameek

Late into the evening, things came to a head as protestors clashed with police on the street, spilling out of City Hall where the rally took place. Holding cell phones to record the officers, police lined up on the other side, equipped with mace. People began chanting “Justice for Jameek,” “Black Lives Matter”, and “No justice, no peace”. Police fired upon the crowd with mace and a large crowd was seen fleeing the Paterson Public Safety Complex building, shielding their faces and coughing.

Wana Fulcher, a protestor on the scene commented on the frightening state of police relations in Paterson.

“I have four sons myself and this is very scary. Your child can’t even walk down to the store without being harassed by an officer. Who can we run to?”

Wana Fulcher, protestor

Community leaders and Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh are supporting the investigation into what happened to Jameek. Several news outlets have attempted to reach Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale for further comment with no success.

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On the Subject of R. Kelly

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I was 14 years old when R. Kelly was indicted on 21 counts of child pornography. It was 2002. TP-2 had been out for a while and everyone was vibing to “Fiesta” and “Feelin’ On Yo Booty”. He was preparing to perform at the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City when the story broke. A videotape had surfaced, allegedly showing R. Kelly urinating on an underage girl. The Black community was silent.

I overheard my adult cousins discuss the tape at family gatherings. Everyone that had seen it seemed to agree. Without a shadow of a doubt, they all knew they were watching Robert Kelly, the pied piper of R&B. Yet there was no outrage, no public outcry or demands for justice. It was sickening. At the time, I lived in Detroit, Michigan, home to DSA. DSA was known as The Detroit High School for the Fine and Performing Arts, but it was famous for birthing the princess of R&B, Aaliyah Dana Haughton.

Buried

When Aaliyah married R. Kelly in 1994 in that secret ceremony with forged documents, Detroit knew. When conversation surrounding the nature of their artist-protégé relationship was questioned, Detroit knew. In televised interviews and radio segments when their voices and body language could be dissected, the truth was bare and as a community we denied it. For the second time, I watched a city turn a blind eye to R. Kelly’s predatory behavior for the love of his music. For what? Because it was more difficult to hold one man accountable for his hebephilia than sacrifice music to bump to? We collectively did ourselves a disservice, the same disservice we do to little Black girls and boys who are preyed on by family and religious figures.

Ignoring the presence of sexual deviance in the Black community does not make the trauma survivors battle daily disappear. I couldn’t understand why people made excuses for rapists or held victims accountable for their pain. “Just separate the art from the artist.” How? Why? The artist is using his status and artistry to directly engage, lure, and abuse Black girls. R. Kelly isn’t the only person to do this. Many celebs have used the promise of fame for sexual favors. Hell, employers use this exact same tactic. In the working environment, people in positions of power will dangle promotion and incentive to bargain sexual favors and people excuse it.

Second Chances

As a community, we must demand better. From the moment those 21 counts of child pornography surfaced following the release of the infamous tape, R. Kelly’s career should have been over. But it wasn’t. He went on to release the Chocolate Factory album, selling more than 3 million copies and going platinum. With the help of a delayed trial, he worked diligently, released gospel music to clean his image. By the time he went to trial in 2008, the Black community had two-stepped his depravity out of their memory. He was found not guilty.

People use twisted language like “Those girls were fast. Where were their parents?” Working long hours to clothe and feed that child. No parent is in all places at all times so save that bullsh*t. Such rhetoric does absolutely nothing to absolve sexual predators of the reality that they took advantage of naive adolescents or starry-eyed adults. Just call it what it is. Or are you afraid that acknowledging his deviance means calling out the same evil in those around you?

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