Believe it or not, almost two months later I'm still decompressing some of the things that happened at IML. It was a very densely packed weekend, and it seems like the surge of experiences still hasn't slowed down due to pride month and birthday-related plans.
The most significant thing was actually a random occurrence at Pride North involving a girl who I initially thought was just a drunk mess, but seems to have tied everything together. She came up and started talking to me and my friends, almost with tears in her eyes, and was telling us that despite the fact she was walking around with a gay pride flag that she wasn't gay, that she just wanted to show support. I try not to be judgmental, but it was a little off-putting until she explained why she was feeling so intensely.
It was a little difficult to hear due to the noise, but from what I gather apparently a lot of people had been complaining about how stupid they thought pride was and that they refused to participate for that reason. Appalled, she had told a few of them "This isn't about *you.*" Her voice started wavering as she was recounting this to us, and she went on to explain that people had suffered and died for our right to do this and that even if you don't like it you owe that fact respect.
What made this significant for me wasn't just witnessing such a genuine expression, it was how widely this principle could and should be applied. There's a lot of negativity directed towards different events or different groups or different circles for various reasons, and it needs to stop. There are way too many people hurting because they feel afraid to be who they are, and anyone attempting to create something where people can stop feeling afraid and unwelcome deserves support, not scrutiny.
This isn't just about being gay, this isn't just about sex, this isn't just about kink; it's about creating a culture where people can be themselves to the fullest extent and we can't do that by failing to support each other. Even if you don't like something or someone, consider whether it is actively helping more people feel okay about themselves before you jump to expressing negativity towards it. This kind of kindness can spread, and is spreading; we all just need to put more conscious effort towards it.
To sum it up, I'll borrow a quote from Sense8:
“For a long time, I was afraid to be who I am because I was taught by my parents that there’s something wrong with someone like me. Something offensive, something you would avoid, maybe even pity. Something that you could never love. I was afraid of this parade because I wanted so badly to be a part of it. So today, I’m marching for that part of me that was once too afraid to march. And for all the people who can’t march… the people living lives like I did. Today, I march to remember that I’m not just a me. I’m also a we. And we march with pride.” - Nomi
There are countless people just like you, and for every moment spent mocking an expression of unity another person slips back into being afraid to be who they are. Consider that before you breathe more negativity into the world.