The first time I marched in a Pride parade, I was 25 years old. The Governor of New York had just signed the state’s Marriage Equality Act, and NYC was literally exploding with rainbow flags and confetti. My boyfriend and I walked hand-in-hand down Manhattan until our arms ached from waving and holding up celebratory signs, which read, “Thank you, Governor Cuomo!” (Happy times for all of us, indeed.) Then we danced the night away in the streets of West Village. We were exhausted, delirious and in awe of the story unfolding around us and the sheer joy of Pride itself. That day in 2011 – and indeed my life, up to that point – felt like a march of progress, moving inexorably towards greater equality.
It’s hard to wear those rose-tinted glasses in 2022. As of press time, more than 300 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures this year. Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which limits sexual orientation and gender identity education in public schools, has become the poster child for this sectarian legislation. But similar bills have been introduced in more than a dozen other states. Transgender students and athletes are also under attack. After years of advancing public attitudes toward LGBTQ+ people, right-wing lawmakers have found another way to legislate hate and strengthen their base.
That’s a lot to contend with, especially after an era of pandemic-related stress and Pride cancellations and restrictions. While we may see less reckless street dancing this year, Pride will undoubtedly return to its roots as a show of visibility and power against those who would seek to erase and oppress. As the old battle cry goes, “We’re here, we’re fags, get used to it!”
In Out‘s Pride, we are proud to present people who embody this philosophy. Within these pages are portraits of groups leading the way: drag legends bringing light and leadership to their communities, leather men fighting stigma and embracing sex positivity, and LGBTQ+ creatives (including Big Freedia!) Transforming New Orleans.
Speaking of Pride and Prejudice, fire island director Andrew Ahn explains how Jane Austen’s novel inspired a groundbreaking new romantic comedy about the famous LGBTQ+ place, while one of its stars, Margaret Cho, talks about being a stay-at-home mom for the cast and a new generation of Asian actors. Moreover, in the cinema, the main role of Bird of Fire shares the chilling relevance of his gay Cold War romance, while Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes analyzes the historic gay roots of the franchise and the new film. On the other side of the screen, the director of Outfest shares photographs, memories and lessons from 40 years of LGBTQ+ film festivals.
And then there are our cover stars, the LGBTQ+ cast members of hacks: Carl Clemons-Hopkins, Hannah Einbinder, Johnny Sibilly, Mark Indelicato, Megan Stalter and Poppy Liu. The GLAAD-winning series, centering on an aging comedian looking to reinvigorate her career, marks a turning point in television for her rainbow ensemble. Not only do they challenge tropes, but they make us laugh! And all the while, the show is quietly redefining homosexuality for audiences by showcasing our humanity, our warts and all. Additionally, each actor is part of the next generation of LGBTQ+ Hollywood and brings their own unique rainbow light to the media landscape. Get to know them better in the cover.
Dear reader, whether you are parading down the street or watching hacks in the sheets, let’s celebrate our community this season by reminding our enemies that we will not be silenced. Say gay. Say transgender. Say lesbian. Say bisexual. Say fagot. Say who you are or want to be. And we say to you: Happy Pride!
This article is part of OutMay/June 2022 publish. Support queer media and subscribe – or download the issue via Amazon, Kindle, Nook or Apple News.
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