Pride Should Be Inclusive…Period.
Pride means many things to me. Initial thoughts brought me to a place where I needed to define
“pride”. What does pride even mean? From an identity standpoint, pride should be a celebration
of who you are. I was raised to celebrate my Blackness. That was something engrained in me
from an early age. In addition to church events, our family celebrated who we were by doing
small but fun things like going to see movies such as I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, The Last
Dragon, Boomerang, and dare I say Meteor Man. My parents also put me on to books beyond
what was force fed in grade school. Yes, they made me read Roots immediately followed by The
Autobiography of Malcolm X in eighth grade for school when everyone else in my English class
was reading S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. These
celebrations were also large-scale holidays like Juneteenth festivals and weddings where folks
jumped over broomsticks and such. Miss me with that Kwanzaa mess though (yeah, I said it). As
an adult, pride to me however has evolved into celebrating who I am as a gay Black man so I
asked myself, “what does pride mean to me now?”
Today I still do small things like going to the movies, “Wakanda Forever” and read works from
James Baldwin, bell hooks, and Michael Eric Dyson (feel free to judge) as of late. The jarring
question now is where does my Blackness fit in with LGBTQ pride and pride celebrations? With
so much commentary on how divisive the LGBTQ community can be through colorism,
whiteness, and white privilege, I often wonder where I fit in.
Pride festivals nationwide throughout June and July are filled with advertisements catering to
white male gays and it can be difficult to find one’s place as an LGBTQ person of color let alone
someone Black anywhere on that spectrum. For me, pride means inclusiveness. The larger
LGBTQ pride festivals in major cities have historically been sponsored by large corporations
with white men at the helm. There seems to be a parallel between the sponsors and how the
festivals are planned. From the entertainment acts, to the advocacy organizations and even
exhibiting adoption agencies, whiteness is everywhere. I will say however, the folks that put
together Long Beach Pride are great about representation and including LGBTQ people of color
in planning. This is evident in their recent entertainment lineup for starters.
#RepresentationMatters is a hashtag I have always used when referencing anything related to
inclusiveness and as an educator, this is of utmost significance considering where we are in the
world. Instead of further assessing the current white male majority at pride festivals, I treat these
events as weekends of public service. I have felt that as an active participant, I can make my
voice be heard through volunteerism, particularly with causes I think are actually inclusive in
action, not just in name.
The folks over at Equality California have always made me feel welcome and the advocacy work they do speaks to my political acumen and also allows for others to see that advocacy and pride is not just for white gay men. Whether registering folks to vote or collecting signatures to push through inclusive legislation so that we can live more freely, equally, and equitably than LGBTQ Californians before us ever have was and will always be a lifelong priority. The American Civil Liberties Union is also an organization that I find works to make the world better for all of us. I have volunteered with them also over the years and found community on an exponential scale. This year I’ll even walk the San Francisco Pride parade with my employer San Francisco State University which validates my commitment to ensuring equitable access to higher education for EVERYONE. The trick for me to finding community has been through advocacy and dare I say activism. Baldwin said that “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced”. This rings so true to those that want to see change and actually want to do something about it. Facing what irritates me head on has to be how I live from now on. Pride is still celebrating who I am but celebrating ALL OF ME through volunteerism and activism at festivals is something that I will cherish all year, not just during the summer. I may even sip on some Don Julio tequila while fist pumping for causes that are truly inclusive.
I am Jamal Evan Mazyck, Ed.D. and I am a Black gay man that lives in hashtags, sips tea, and loves to run. Go Figure. #BlackGuysRun #BlackLGBTQEducator #BlackGayEducator