Pride: Acceptance, Love, Defiance, Struggle, Religious Condemnation!

Prism & Pen Weekly Digest — June 9, 2024

James Finn
Prism & Pen

Newsletter

18 min readJun 9, 2024

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by James Finn

Welcome to Prism & Pen’s second Pride week! In this special edition, we sing our love, weep for love lost, shout our defiance, demand unconditional societal inclusion even in Church, share parenting tips, and debate the “true” meaning of Pride among ourselves.

Should we celebrate or march? Do we shove Pride down people’s throats? Why has Pope Francis banned gay men from training for the priesthood even as he utters kind (lying?) words about trans and gay people?

Above all, we offer our own stories in our own voices, never hiding our truth, our goodness, or our light. Come love with us. Come read with us!👇

Read stories for free by clicking underlined links. Want more daily stories from across the rainbow? Follow us on Medium, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Mastodon, or Bluesky! Want to help support P&P? Click here to join Medium.

— Editor’s Picks —

Pride: My First Transgender Bar

Emma Holiday

Working in Manhattan, you would think that I would have a wide selection of transgender bars, but there aren’t many. In fact, I was aware of only one in the Hells Kitchen part of the city. The ads made it look like a strip club…

I had been to several lesbian and gay bars. The people were great but I still felt like an outsider …

At a slow moment at work, I Googled “Transgender bars in NYC” and was surprised that there was a new trans bar that just opened up. It was called the T Lounge and its motto was “A Safe Place for Everyone.” It sounded like exactly what I was looking for.

It opened at 5 pm so I went there after work… I loved every minute of it.

Read in P&P

Why I Can’t Bring Myself to Celebrate Pride This Year

Kaylin Hamilton

Every year we celebrate the way that Pride was embodied by the Stonewall Riots and other Queer activist events of that era, which stood up not just against homophobia but against oppression in general: Stonewall and Pride were movements of the marginalised, of the oppressed against the oppressors.

Is that still the case?

In a very real sense, yes, because many if not all of us are still marginalised to some extent.

But Pride has also become a celebration of the achievements of the gay rights movement, and a form of acceptance which has relied on Queers adhering to a heteronormative — and thus homonormative — way of living, coinciding with the goals of neoliberalism and reifying oppressive social structures.

Read in P&P

The Pope’s Anti-Gay Slur at the Start of Pride Is NOT Important

James Finn

Did you hear Pope Francis recently appeared at a meeting of Italian Catholic bishops and reinforced his ban on gay men training for the priesthood? Even though the pope’s appearance made headlines, you might not understand what actually happened. Mainstream news coverage has been that poor, frankly.

What you probably HAVE read is that during that meeting, Francis used the Italian slur frociaggine, roughly equivalent to “fagotry” or “fagginess,” and you might have read that the bishops broke out in supportive laughter when the pope used the slur…

News reporting about Pope Francis has been so uniformly poor that I bet few of you know Francis has banned gay men from the priesthood — for being fundamentally unsuitable, too flawed and broken as human beings, or maybe too much like women — since the very beginning of his papacy, and that his stand has become ever more firm over the years.

Read in P&P

Marched in My First Pride Parade: What a Freaky Fun Fearful Frolic!

Fay Wylde

This was the first Pride parade ever held in my small little redneck middle-of-nowhere town.

I live in mega MAGA territory, where in elections the vote is, oh, roughly 90% for the Republican Party… and probably 5% for Libertarians. A sighting of a Democrat around here is like spotting a Bigfoot or a Jackalope.

This is a place of conservative values and churchgoers… and, therefore, crushing boredom, unless cake walks and quilting bees are your thing.

So, when I heard there would be a Pride parade here, my first thought was: “What? Three floats, two hound dogs, and a dozen people lining the street to stare at us?”

My second thought was: “This is crazy dangerous!”

Read in P&P

Here’s the Painful Colorado Pride Story I Couldn’t Share Last Year

Logan Silkwood

Re-watching the minute-long video I took from a Pride event in Castle Rock, Colorado last August is so painful. It takes me right back to a moment when my blood was running cold as ice — on a day that had been so beautiful and warm.

They were holding a giant red, white, and blue sign that read, “Strong Families; Strong Nations”. Their faces were covered with Gaiter masks. They waved American flags meant to inspire fear in the people they hated: us…

Only a few minutes earlier, I’d showed a member of the Parasol Patrol a picture of the anti-LGBTQ+ slur “Groomers,” spray-painted in black in the parking lot near my car. I watched her go running without another word.

Read in P&P

The Case for Queer People to Talk About Sexual Violence

Alex Mell-Taylor

I remember crying in the bathroom shower at home as I washed away the blood from my body. I told no one what happened. It took me years to be honest with the assault, and even as I went to therapy and started taking medication, I was deeply uncomfortable with sex, always believing I was one hookup away from someone hurting me.

Recently, I have started talking about my assault, and it’s been liberating. I can have sex again, and it’s opened up space within me that I didn’t think was possible. In fact, I wrote an entire book where one of the main characters experiences sexual assault, and I am not afraid to admit that it draws heavily from personal experience.

The shame and guilt I have felt has dissipated, and I want to make the case for such vulnerability in the queer community, …

Read in P&P

Dear Church, I am NOT a “Gay Issue”

Jonny Masters

Earlier this evening, my phone pinged with a message. “Anyone know the stance of <name of church> on gay issues?”

This message went to the group. Over 1000 people can see it. On the face of it, it is positive. Nevertheless, I found it hurtful. Let me explain.

The positive element of it is that someone is seeking an inclusive and affirming Church for LGBTQ+ people. The more Christians seek this kind of church, the more of them will exist. That is definitely a huge positive.

However, I still have a problem with the message. By using the words ‘gay issues’ it raises two problematic elements…

Read in P&P

No, Candace Owens, Kristen Stewart Did Not Invent Gender Bending!

Rand Bishop

It wasn’t all that long ago that a person could be arrested if they were caught wearing fewer than three articles of clothing consistent with their assigned gender. Today, a young someone who overtly defies gender stereotypes works behind the counter at a convenience store in Eureka, California.

What was once shocking and totally unacceptable sooner or later becomes a ho-hum, every day occurrence. Being provocative enough to get any reaction at all becomes more and more of a challenge. Kristen Stewart had to push the envelope to extremes on her Rolling Stone cover to succeed in that regard.

And, Candace Owens took the bait.

Read in P&P

2 More Novels About Gay Men *Everyone* Should Read

John Peyton Cooke

This is a follow-up of sorts to my previous article “5 Novels About Gay Men and Teens That *Everyone* Should Read.” What I’m doing in this series is recommending books that even non-LGBTQ+ people might find enjoyable, due to their quality and universality.

I don’t intend to stop here, so please keep your eyes peeled for future lists of LGBTQ+ book recommendations — primarily books about gay or bisexual men, since that’s my own main personal interest.

The connection between today’s two recommendations is that they are both love stories concerning a trio of gay men in earlier times. One, Maurice, is set in Edwardian England. The other, Why We Never Danced the Charleston, is set in 1920s Charleston, South Carolina. Both novels offer insights into the difficulties faced by men who were forced to hide their true selves …

Read in P&P

A Trans Woman’s Journey to Overcome Touch Aversion

Piddling Piddles

Before puberty, I loved giving hugs. My parents, my cousins, my aunts — most of my family received one from me at one point or another. Sometimes, I’d play pretend with my younger brother where I was a monster, and would chase him around the house to grab him in hugs…

In boyhood, to get close to another boy was to be the dreaded gay.
None of my friends liked giving hugs or talking to one another about their troubles. Affection of any sort, or daring to show you cared, was off-limits.

There was, after all, little worse in the social jungle of school than being viewed as gay. And what could be more gay than being close to another boy?

Read in P&P

Same-Sex Couples: How To Help Your Kids Understand (Hint: It’s Easy)

Amy Kaufman Burk

When my second child was four, I sat with him in our favorite playground while he poured sand into a bright yellow pail. Another boy, carrying an orange plastic shovel, joined us with his mother. A girl walked up clutching the hands of two men. She was shy and her fathers gently encouraged her to join us. My son noticed them and invited her to “help dig.” She scampered forward, and her two fathers sat next to me on a bench.

Shovel Boy looked up from his digging and stared at the two men. He pointed and said, “Uh oh!” His mother blushed and immediately assured him that all was well. He again pointed and repeated, “Uh oh!” Painfully embarrassed, his mother sat speechless. The boy looked so baffled that I asked if he could tell us what was wrong. He jumped up, ran to the two men and pointed downward. “Shoelace untied! Uh oh!”

The adults burst out laughing.

Read in P&P

A Straight Man Remembers the Men He Loved: Starting with Frank C.

Ronald C. Flores-Gunkle

Realizing you are straight does not preclude loving men, and I have been in love with three men in my life. I’d like to share the stories with you — although what I really want to do is remember and reconstruct them and recognize what I learned from them…

When I was a junior at Bethlehem’s Liberty High School and dating Peggy … I met [a young man] on a cold windy day on a bridge over the Lehigh River. Frank C. was photographing the steelworks along the river. Everything about photography interested me — and he was using the very camera I had been lusting after… In short, we became — as they say today — besties…

He touched my mind. Today I suspect he may have wanted more, but I think he found pleasure in having an acolyte, someone he could guide, and he respected me.

Read in P&P

— Essays & Creative Nonfiction —

Straight from the Heart: My Journey into 2SLGBTQ+ Awareness

Dinah Davis (She/Her)

In the Mennonite Brethren belief system, dancing is a sin, never mind pre-marital sex. The Mennonite Brethren Church puts a big guilt trip on you anytime you sin…

This leads those in the church to believe that same-sex relationships are also a sin…

On the flip side, I was brought up in a family where the example was that we love everyone. We don’t discriminate against anyone. We can disagree with them and have different belief systems, but we don’t treat people differently because of what they believe, who they love, or the colour of their skin.

These two belief systems didn’t jive, and I spent most of my 20s figuring out what I believed …

Read in P&P

Lesbian Olden Days: Two Films Take Us Back to the 80s and Earlier

M. J. Carson

I taught LGBTQ+ history at a west coast university for twenty years. I used a number of documentary films every term. Each year I got older; the films got older; the students stayed the same age. Weird.

You can see where this went. The documentaries that shone at the beginning of my career as contemporary analyses gradually morphed into pieces of history themselves. Our class discussions became as much about the meta-aspects of using older film as about the content of those films.

And that was good.

Read in P&P

I Stand Up For Pride as a Woman Who Is Transgender!

Emma Holiday

I refuse to hide any longer in the closet I was forced into as a child.

I am a woman who is also transgender.

I am not a pedophile, serial rapist, or stalker. I am a normal person who Mother Nature, in her infinite wisdom and boundless sense of humor, gave a male body and a female brain.

In an ignorant society, a biological body dictated the gender I was forced to live as. Fortunately, human knowledge and understanding is never static.

Read in P&P

Fake Pics, Real Lessons: Understanding My Gay Catfishing Past

Shaun Pezeshki

You know that feeling when something seems just a little… off? I was on Facebook recently and joined a gay travel group. A lot of the posts begin with pictures of guys looking for travel buddies or friends in different areas. It soon became obvious, when certain pictures looked like friends or acquaintances, that it wasn’t actually them in the photos.

The group extends internationally, so people abroad may not be exposed to the real local identities behind profiles that appear on Instagram and other platforms. And it had me thinking about my own past experiences with catfishing…

Let’s get the embarrassing part out of the way first: Yes, I briefly catfished people when I was 18. Yikes! I know, please let me explain…

Read in P&P

Lost Boys and Fairies: A Masterpiece Of LGBTQ+ Television

Jonny Masters

Sometimes a television show grabs your attention and grips it in a fist. Breaking Bad does it through character development alongside a ridiculous yet intriguing plot. Suits offers a constant feeling of jeopardy married to triumph in each individual episode.

Even rarer, however, a TV show grabs your heart and splits it in two.

Lost Boys and Fairies does just that. The BBC show, released to coincide with Pride month, takes you on a journey with a gay couple, Gabe and Andy, seeking to adopt a child.

Read in P&P

June 1, Biggest Best Pride Ever in Sonoma County, CA!

Molly Martin

Our Sonoma County Pride celebration took place in Santa Rosa, where we live, a city of 177,000. After the parade, we checked out the booths and music at the town square. This year saw more marchers and watchers than ever. And if there were haters (as there have been in past years), I never saw them. The vibe was joyful.

The theme this year was Heroes Sheroes and Queeroes. So there were lots of superhero capes among the marchers. The Sebastopol Senior Center had a large contingent. Volunteers made 60 capes with messages, and they won the Best Overall Float prize. Seven local queeroes were honored.

Read in P&P

The Last Moment with the Woman I Thought I’d Marry

Eleni Stephanides

At the time I didn’t know the moment was our last. I had little reason to.

I’d just returned home from brunch with my parents. We’d eaten at a local Ethiopian spot, owned by a kind lady who always greeted me with a warm smile. She’d serve up a platter of lentils with Injera and we’d chat about our cats — hers Rainbow, mine Mickey and Callie.

S was napping in my bed, covered in the bedsheets like a beautiful taquito. She’d stayed out late with a few of my friends the night before. Unable to stifle my yawns for any longer than I did, I’d left the gathering early to get some much-needed sleep.

Read in P&P

Should Straight People Be Allowed In Gay Clubs?

Sam Cavalcanti

It’s one of the ultimate ethical conundrums of our generation, one might say; a question worth pondering as we enter another Pride month, a time when more spaces and events catering to the LGBTQ community arise.

Who should be allowed in them, and who, if anyone, should regulate them?

Are gay people allowed in straight clubs? Not really. Depending on where you go as a queer person, you might deal with fetishization (especially as a sapphic), harassment, or even straight-up violence. LGBTQ spaces are born out of need because the cis- and heteronormative spaces are unwelcoming to queer folk.

Read in P&P

I’m Traveling 1,700 Miles To See a Gay Man I Met Online

Scott Nuce

I won’t be going ziplining when I visit Costa Rica this summer. I won’t be searching for sloths or getting sunburned on the beach. Even though this will be my first time there, I won’t be doing the usual touristy things.

I won’t try to go surfing or stay in a rainforest treehouse. All those adventures will have to wait for my next trip…

I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie, but the thought of this trip to Costa Rica terrifies me. I’m going to see the hometown of a man I met online three years ago and to meet him in person.

Read in P&P

The Biggest Scandal in Bridgerton: Why LGBTQ+ Representation Matters

Luwa Adebanjo

If there’s one thing we love about Bridgerton, it’s the way it gives us romance combined with enough steamy scenes to fog up our screens. But beyond the dashing dukes and debutante drama, Bridgerton has been quietly making strides in LGBTQ+ representation, giving us moments that make us cheer, cry, and tweet like there’s no tomorrow.

Benedict Bridgerton, the enigmatic artist of the Bridgerton family, has long intrigued fans with his charisma and potential for exploration of his sexuality…

Read in P&P

Reviewing Literary Fiction With Gay Male Protagonists: A Series

Ross Lonergan

I don’t know if they constitute an official genre or not, but over the past few years I have been reading an astonishingly large number of what I call gay-themed literary novels, some of which merit — and have indeed received — great praise for their depiction, often in beautiful, poetic language, of the inner and outer lives and relationships of gay-male characters.

In this Prism & Pen series, I will introduce works of gay literary fiction to potential readers, to lovers of literary fiction, gay and straight.

Read in P&P

To Bi or Not To Bi? Confronting a Personal Grey Area, and a New Label

Matt Mason

There is so much discourse over what is and isn’t “bisexual”. If we take the traditional and arguably increasingly out-of-date view, it’s a man or a woman who is attracted to both men and women, though not necessarily in equal measure. But what about other genders? What about non-binary people, genderfluid, agender? How come they don’t seem to count in this gender, um, binary?

Well, of course they count. It was with this huge array of gender identities and experiences at the back of my mind that I had to ask myself the question earlier this year: “Am I bisexual?”

Read in P&P

Open Wide for Pride: In Defense of Throat Shoving

Steve K

Recently, Amber Poe published a piece on Prism & Pen entitled Transphobes: No One Is Shoving Pride Month Down Your Throat. It’s an eloquent and lovely piece which echoes the views of many queer commenters today, and I highly recommend you read it. While I enjoyed her piece; frankly it’s sentiment that I have heard many times within the community.

I would like to offer an alternate and contrary viewpoint.

Read in P&P

The NAIA’s Trans Athlete Policy is Problematic

Jordan Meadows

An athlete can compete in women’s sports only if they were assigned as female at birth, according to a new policy by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). This shift comes amid a larger national debate about trans rights — especially in athletics.

Most U.S. universities and colleges are part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which governs their sports rules. Others belong to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), a national athletic governing body for smaller colleges not affiliated with the NCAA. About 80% of NAIA’s membership consists of private schools.

Read in P&P

— Fiction Finds —

A Secret Sapphic Poet at a High School Reunion?

Jack Herlocker

Mary took a sip of her drink. “So, as you know, Brett and I had the best prom date in the history of high school proms, ever. And the most important part of that was the poem he gave me, prom night. It was just the most wonderful thing anybody could have ever written. I just knew that the two of us would have to be together for the rest of our lives. Except.”

She cocked her head at Lydia. “Two years after graduation, I run into Marny Shaw — remember her, tall redhead, we had her in our English class senior year? — and Marny told me there was someone in our class who had this side thing going, where they wrote love poems for guys who were trying to nail their girlfriends.

Read in P&P

— Fiction Series —

The Medellan Conspiracy

Click here for an intro and chapter links

By Grayson Bell

Following the The Medellan Conspiracy? (Not too late to start!) Explanations are starting to pour in as Ardyn and Jevan finally begin unraveling the secret history of Jevan’s people.

The video continued, as Mari and the others explained how all the O-negative people began rapidly growing old and dying after the age of thirty. Their scientists and doctors had tried everything to cure them, but after a couple of generations, they gave up. They had even sent some of those affected back to Earth, but the genetic damage persisted in their offspring.

Mari shifted uncomfortably before looking back into the camera. “That’s when the unthinkable happened. In a joint decision between the Global Earth Government and the United Colonial Federation, all O-negative humans were to be culled from the population.

Read Episode 71: Revelations
Read Episode 72: Understanding

That’s all for Prism & Pen this week, folks, so happy reading!

Writers, have you seen our Pride prompt? Pride Is Under Threat. What Does That Mean for You This Year? We’ll be telling Pride stories all month. Join us!

And we’ll see y’all next Sunday for another Pride special edition. ❤️

— Jim

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James Finn
Prism & Pen

James Finn is an LGBTQ columnist, a former Air Force intelligence analyst, an alumnus of Act Up NY, and an agented but unpublished novelist.