When I first began planning a Pride Month celebration in 2018 for iHorror, I knew that the stakes were high, but I also knew that the benefits could be innumerable. That first year was rough, not just in the planning, but also in the execution and unfortunately the enormous amount of push-back I received on almost every single article I published.
Still, I was dedicated to the principles that I had set out for myself from the beginning. Inclusion, visibility, representation, and equality, after all, really don’t seem like too much to ask.
Going into the preparation for this year, the trepidation was still there and though I was again committed to what I was doing, I’ll admit that my hands were shaking as I prepared to post the article announcing our second year of Horror Pride Month.
Again, there was that same old push-back, though I was grateful to see that it was nowhere near the level that we’d experienced the year before.
As I began to post interviews with the various filmmakers, actors, etc. that I’d been working on for months as well as articles that dug into the history of queerness within the horror genre, the response from our readers was split.
On any given article, I’d been accused of “making things up” or of shoving a political agenda down someone’s throat, but I also began to notice a pattern that began to tug at my heart because on almost every single article there would be a solitary comment from someone that simply said, “Thank you.”
That trend carried over to the DMs from strangers that I received throughout the month. Most were from adults but I had a couple from teenagers who took the time to track me down on social media, again, simply to say thank you for what I was writing.
I puzzled over this for a while. Obviously, I was grateful that people were responding positively to the writing, but it wasn’t until I was a guest on a podcast toward the end of this month that it finally occurred to me that these thank yous were the fulfillment of a promise that I had made from the beginning.
You see, most didn’t elaborate. They said, “thank you” and that was all, and I will admit that reflecting back now, I must have been really dense not to have understood the underlying meaning. They weren’t just thanking me for the articles; they were thanking me for seeing them, and at the same time for putting my own face on my articles and being seen.
I had a late night conversation with iHorror Editor-in-Chief and my constant mentor, Timothy Rawles, and I told him I was kind of shocked and in awe of the power of that simple phrase.
Timothy has a way of cutting to the quick of things. I’m not sure if it’s because he’s spent years working in journalism or if it’s because he’s a Scorpio.
“You’re not doing it for the gratitude,” he told me, and the world spun around in my head a little.
When I set out on the journey to create a Pride Month celebration, I set those four principles in my mind and wore them as armor as I wrote and published each article, but much like a knight riding headlong into battle against an army of trolls without his helmet, I had forgotten a significant piece of my equipment.
Please understand, I profusely thank each and every person who contributes to this series for their films, their words, and their commitment to the cause of equality, but because I had seen myself merely as the marvelously lucky scribe with whom they trusted their stories, I had never considered extending that same gratitude to my audience nor that they might be genuinely grateful to me in return.
I’ve even spoken about those positive comments on panels in the past but it had never really hit me until only a few days ago. As I said, before, I can be dense sometimes.
And so, as I close out the second annual Horror Pride Month, I’d like to address our readers directly and firstly say, from the bottom of my queer heart, thank you.
Thank you for showing up. Thank you for reading. Thank you for sharing and commenting and lending your voices to the conversation.
Next, I want you to know something that I feel is just as important. I see you. I’ve seen some of your names over and over again, reacting and commenting on the articles that published this month.
You are not faceless to me. You are essential. No film, book, painting, article, or any other form of expression is complete without an audience to receive it, and again I thank you for taking part in Pride Month.
There are those who will try to silence you throughout your lives. You know this as well as I, but showing up, standing up, and making your voice heard, even just by commenting on an article or sharing your ideas in a discussion is an essential part of progress.
To those who push against these articles, who chafe at their existence, and who consider Pride some sort of entitled exercise, thank you. If you had said the things to me in my 20s that you have said now, I would have slunk back into the dark with my head down, but I am not that man anymore.
Now, they empower me. The remind me why I’m fighting for equality in every facet of life for all of my queer family, and now that our readers have given me the final piece of armor that I need, I am even more prepared.
Pride is not just a one-month celebration. Pride is something that lives inside every queer person on the planet every day, even in those places where the punishment for queerness is death. If you think your idle threats and insults will stop this conversation, then you obviously don’t know our community as a whole.
Fifty years ago, police raided the Stonewall Inn in New York City. It had happened numerous times but there are only so many times you can be pushed before you push back, and in the early morning hours a riot broke out with drag queens and trans women of color in the lead who picked up bricks, rocks, whatever they could find and said, “Enough is enough.”
Emboldened by their queer family, the rest of the crowd followed suit, and a movement was born.
That movement said we would not be forced into the shadows anymore. We are human beings and deserving of the same rights as anyone else. We are here, and we will not leave. This is our world as much as it is yours.
And most importantly, we will not be silenced ever again.
I like to think that the energy raised that night has never dissipated. It has grown as each new voice is added to the community, and it infuses every single queer person in the world with the strength to stand up for themselves, proudly and with purpose.
And so, as I close out 2019’s Horror Pride Month, I say thank you to our queer family who, on that night, started a riot, and I make two promises to my readers.
Number 1: Just because Pride Month is over doesn’t mean my coverage will stop. I will continue to shine a light on the LGBTQ community in the horror space. I will continue to support the creators, and all of our readers out there.
Number 2: Horror Pride Month will return in 2020 but with an additional goal added to our mantra: Inclusion, Visibility, Representation, Equality, and Gratitude.