As someone who majored in Women's Studies in college, I was mind effed when it comes to LGBT life. I came from a space and town where being black was hard enough.
However, I was also what I'd call the black sheep of the family who could always think outside of the box. That's why I wasn't confused or appalled the first time I met someone who identified as a lesbian.
In fact, I was intrigued. Then came college and a separation from family thought. It was easy for me to appreciate and love difference, but the type of difference was so different that I may have been a bit overwhelmed.
So it's normal to be married to a woman as a man and go through a sex change and still want to be with that woman? That's cool with me. And still, the ways that I defined "normal" — a word that I loathe — in terms of sexuality were stretching.
Women's studies also taught me about the importance of separation of spaces when it comes to the women's movement as well as the LGBTQ+ movement. The reality is the first wave of each respective movement didn't serve the larger purpose.
White women and gay men weren't necessarily concerned with the experience of those of different races, cultures, etc. And that makes complete sense. They wouldn't know how to fight the battles of, say, black men or black gay men. I might even ask why they would be expected to fight someone else's fight when they had to fight their own?
Nevertheless, I found myself almost 10 years later in Charlotte asking myself the question: Why do we have Latino Pride, Black Pride and the separate, very white Charlotte Pride?
I'm friends with folks who have lived here for years and are utterly baffled when I mention any other version of Pride outside of the "regular one."
Just last week, in my piece about AfroPop! Charlotte, I mentioned that "other" spaces aren't paramount from a marketing standpoint in Charlotte. So I shouldn't be surprised that Charlotteans, who can't even appreciate the difference that is sexuality, can't imagine that other versions of Pride exist.
But then I also think about the fact that post-Charlotte Uprising, inclusivity and togetherness are at the forefront of my mind. And despite my background and experience, and even though I know there is true value in separation of space, I find myself asking the question, "Why can't we all just get along?"
So what do we do? We're in an era in which I'd argue respect of sexuality is winning when compared to views on race. But that's also why I'd argue that space has the power to be a true changemaker with regards to race.
And at the same time, it's a sacred space that respects race and experience in an innovative way.
But also, the same issues — maybe even barriers — seem to exist when it comes to marketing the "other" of "other" in Charlotte. Some people haven't "heard" about Black Pride or Latin Pride, but everyone knows that the Pride parade and festival are going to happen in Uptown Charlotte toward the end of August.
So why should I care about separatism or inclusivity when other cultures, races or experiences are being appreciated for what and who they are?
I think back to my most recent Pride experience with my parents. They are one of the only reasons I bring up my hometown experience. I can separate those who are what I define as ignorant.
And yet, they were traipsing around Uptown with me last year during Pride. While it was "different" than what they were used to, they were able to exist in that space and have a good time. Is there a world where that type of coexistence can be the norm?
So, given the fact that it's Pride Week, at least in our city, I felt the need to posit these thoughts and questions to the people of Charlotte.
I pose the question to my readers, what are your thoughts on separation of spaces? Is it a good or bad thing that we separate ourselves when it comes to something like Pride? Do you think that we'd better off coming together on everything that is socialization?
Share your thoughts with me at [email protected]. Oh, and by the way, love is always going to be love.