Queer communities around the world are having an interesting and important discussion right now: what's next? How do we move forward in the face of so much hate and celebrate Pride when we're also in mourning? How do we manage the fear and anxiety that the events in Orlando have brought up for us again? I say again because the fear of being attacked and killed because of who we love is something that queer people face every day. Orlando was a brutal reminder of that ongoing threat. The question is this: given the current environment, should we still attend upcoming Pride festivals, despite this fear and anxiety?
Several communities have held Pride celebrations in the wake of the shooting so far. For me as well, the answer is yes. I've already booked my booths at Pride Northwest in Portland, PrideFest Capitol Hill, and PrideFest 2016 at Seattle Center, so I can't not go, but I also can't help but feel anxious. I've cried and worried and discussed it with my partner. My parents have expressed their concern for my safety as well. I take some comfort in the fact that if something happened, he and I would both be "the helpers" Fred Rogers was talking about - we both have first aid and leadership training and would not hesitate to get people to safety and provide aid. But beyond that, we have also discussed our duty to represent the bi community at these events, to show everyone that we do exist and we won't be silenced by acts of hate. Last year we were the only bi booth at both festivals. We have the honor and the responsibility of being a strong, supportive source of bisexual pride. If you're nervous about attending Pride Northwest Portland and Seattle PrideFest, as I will be, please know that you'll find a kindred spirit and a safe place at my booth. Come by for a chat or a hug and know that you are among friends and that our bisexual pride can not be silenced.