Pride: celebrating me and the multitudes I contain

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Editor’s Note: June is Pride Month which celebrates the LGBTQ+ community.  The month commemorates the Stonewall Uprising of 1969.  In the early morning hours of June 28, New York City Police raided the Stonewall Inn — a gay bar in Greenwich Village. The raid sparked a riot among bar patrons, neighborhood residents, and the police. The community protested for more than five days in and around Christopher Street, where the Stonewall Inn is still located.  The uprising catalyzed LGBTQ+ rights movement in the U.S. and around the world.

 At RPG, our core cultural building blocks are authenticity, belonging and compassion. But without a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, these are just words. Our friends at The Diversity Movement remind us that “when companies downplay demographic differences, they actually increase underrepresented employees’ perception of bias from white colleagues and reduce engagement at work.”

As part of recognizing Pride Month, we celebrate Racer Kate Carroll de Gutes, and all that the month of observation means to them.

What motivates you?

So many things.  But as a nonbinary queer person, helping folx understand the difference between sexual orientation, gender presentation (or expression), and gender identity are at the top of my list.  I like serving as a resource for those who have questions about those topics or pronouns, or why it seems as if these conversations suddenly have taken the spotlight.

As a person now living in Iowa — after 34 years in Portland, Oregon — I am also motivated to speak up about the regressive laws put forth by Governor Kim Reynolds. The Washington Post recently called Iowa “The Florida of the North.”  In the 2.5 years I’ve lived here, she’s pushed an anti-LGBTQ+ agenda of 29 anti-LGBTQ+ bills including:

  • Transgender exclusions in sports
  • A transgender bathroom bill that requires trans people to use the bathroom for the sex assigned to them at birth
  • Anti-bullying laws that prohibit enumeration
  • Laws that restrict inclusion of LGBTQ+ topics in schools

Please don’t even get me started about Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis.  He is capitalizing on GOP mania surrounding LGBTQ issues to advance his political goals.

As a gubernatorial candidate in 2018, during a GOP primary forum hosted by the Florida Family Policy Council, a Christian right organization, he said, “Getting into bathroom wars, I don’t think that’s a good use of our time.”

Yet, in 2023, he signed six incredibly regressive anti-LGBTQ laws designed to scale back hard-won freedoms.

To me, the most harmful bill in Florida bans teaching anything that might relate to sexual orientation or gender identity. His original bill targeted grades K-8, but the Florida Board of Education voted to expand the law to cover all grades.

When I was growing up, all the books about sexual orientation were kept behind the reference librarian’s desk.  I can tell you from personal experience, no kid possesses the ego strength to walk up and ask for one of those books.

In 2023, the Trevor Project’s national survey of LGBTQ youth found that 41% of the more than 28,000 LGBTQ young people ages 13 to 24 surveyed seriously considered suicide. It’s easy to understand why when it seems as if half the country hates you.

Who has served as an inspiration in your life?

I feel a great debt of gratitude to those who came before me and the path they hacked through the wilderness of cis, het, white culture and laws.  If it weren’t for people such as Edie Windsor, John Lawrence, Marsha P. Johnson, and Sylvia Rivera —to name just a few — my own coming out and gender presentation would certainly have been more difficult.

What book do you think everyone should read?

Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe is currently the most challenged and banned book in America’s school system. This graphic memoir highlights Kobabe’s growing awareness that eir did not fit the traditional binary model espoused by our culture for the past two hundred years.

There are more pronouns than she, he, and they.  (Click to learn more about the word eir.)

Hundreds of distinct cultures around the world recognize third, fourth, and fifth genders.  Navajo and Hawaiian cultures, for instance, recognize certain people as embodying both male and female spirits.  Most Western societies lack a direct correlation for this concept.  But many of us exist as both/and or neither/nor.  Once you start looking and querying, it’s hard to miss.

What does Pride Month mean to you?

Maybe you’ve seen the t-shirts that say “Pride is a riot.”  The original Pride was a riot. The first parade in 1970 capitalized on the release of that anger and the joy of coming out of the closet.

So I have to say, I love Pride in Iowa City because it sticks to its roots: a joyful event full of queers and absent of all the corporate business trying to get in on the celebration.

I don’t want “Rainbow Capitalism” one month out of the year.  It’s great that Alaska Airlines, Wells Fargo, and M&Ms all support Pride during the month of June, but I’d rather these businesses speak out against regressive legislation. I don’t need another luggage tag or bag of candy.

Pride celebrates the diversity that makes up my community.  It celebrates all the ways we are in the world. It celebrates me and the multitudes I contain.


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