Queer Futures: Mo
Pride is difficult for me this year, as I imagine it may be for many others. For a lot of reasons, I've struggled to feel much hope recently. Maybe some of you reading this can relate. I've never lived in a world where queer and trans people didn't face discrimination, demonization, threats of violence, or punitive legislation, but it feels like things have gotten worse in recent years and months, in terms of how outspoken the people who want us silenced, de-transitioned, and forced back into the closet have become.
It wasn't that no one held these views when I came out twenty years ago; plenty of people did, certainly. But those views weren't part of the normal news cycle, and the people who were most outspoken about them weren't mainstream authors or political commentators with huge national (or international) platforms. When I came out as trans in 2005, I struggled to explain myself to friends and coworkers who barely understood what the word meant, but I didn't see trans people demonized in the news or on social media every day.
It's a different kind of pain, to see hatred become a "let's listen to both sides" talking point than it was to be misgendered, sometimes aggressively, by the people in my community. I'm targeted less directly, these days, but I'm a lot more worried about my wider community, especially the younger people who are being harmed the most by recent developments. With trans youth under attack, queer books being targeted and pulled from schools and libraries, and many people insistent that the existence of queer and trans people is an "adult" topic unsuitable for children to know about at all, it's hard to feel hopeful for the future.
I've never been good at picturing or planning for my own future. When teachers or family members asked questions about a "five year plan" or about my goals for later in life, my mind was a complete blank every time. I knew I wanted a cat. I knew I wanted to live with someone I was close to, whether that was a close friend or a partner. But I never had a better sense than that of what I wanted out of the future.
It's still hard to picture, now, but some of the difficulty comes from worrying how much worse things will get for us, before they get better. Some of it comes from wondering how many of us will be around to see things get better. I don't want to feel hopeless, but sometimes it's difficult to avoid.
But we're tough, the whole huge rainbow community. We're resilient. We shouldn't have to be; that shouldn't be required of us. But we've learned it, because we've had to. We've learned to hold each other up, to fight back and create art and love and be messy weirdos together. I don't think there's any victory to be had here that we win without each other's help.
This past weekend, I got to meet my friends' baby for the first time. They're five months old, a soft new face in a difficult world. One of my friends was out of town, so I stopped by to hold the baby a bit, so their other parent could get some rest after several days of being their lone caretaker. The baby was feeling a little restless and cranky, so they didn't nap for long, but still I got to enjoy a brief period of having a tiny person asleep on my shoulder with their hand clutching my beard. I had the chance to catch up with my friend and admire their cute little kid and all their adorable dinosaur toys. A little moment of joy, even factoring in how loud it is when a fussy baby cries directly in your ear.
I hope my future holds more visits with this kiddo, that I can listen when they start to talk and tell them goofy stories when they're old enough to understand.
I meet up with a friend every week to knit and chat. We've done this for years; before the pandemic, we met at a cafe in our neighborhood. For a year, we chatted over video calls, holding our yarn and our projects up to the camera to show them off at a distance. Now, we swap off week by week, visiting each other's houses, admiring each other's cats, greeting each other's partners when they poke their heads into the room. Some weeks we talk about heavy stuff happening in our families; some weeks we talk about our current writing projects or what we're planning on knitting next. Some weeks we don't talk much at all.
I hope we're able to continue this for a long time. I want my future to be punctuated by these regular moments with a friend I love, where we can be vulnerable and enthusiastic and ridiculous together.
I've wound up in an extended network of friends where most of us are some flavor of trans or queer, and I love it. We've helped each other find jobs, cried over breakups or strained family relationships together, shared pet photos and recipes and dating advice, and made so many terrible jokes we still laugh about years later. We've seen each other in person, when we can, and otherwise keep up with each other as much as we can, as easily as time zones will allow, in a handful of spaces online. Several of these friends have come out recently, in one way or another, and it's been a joy to see every time. I love that our community's growing stronger, that someone I love has a new understanding of what they want for their life and their own future.
If there's any hope and any future to be had, it's this. Standing together against the people who want to harm us, supporting each other's creative work and falling in love and holding babies and throwing a brick or two when we need to. The future isn't for any one of us; it's for all of us to reach together. I certainly can't predict what the world will look like or who I'll be in another ten years, but I hope I'll be able to carry my beautiful group of queer and trans friends with me, that we can keep holding each other up and finding moments of joy and surviving -- angrily, spitefully, joyfully -- together.