My queer identity is not for your entertainment

This is a First Person column by Evelyn Bradley, a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant based in Charlottetown, P.E.I. For more information about CBC’s First Person stories, please see the FAQ.

Several months ago, my wife and I were in the grocery store. We were getting the usual: eggs, almond milk creamer for me, ADL 18% for her, and butter. We picked up a few fruits and vegetables, like we always do, but it was a simple trip. 

Fast forward to the following week and we had used everything but one lone banana, already turned brown. So we added it to the collection of bananas that had already found a home in the deep dark recesses of the freezer. 

Since then, four more bananas have joined the stash — and still, there are no bread or muffins to be found. 

The truth is that my marriage is pretty similar to many other marriages. A lot of 2SLGBTQ+  relationships, marriages, and identities are just as boring as their heteronormative counterparts — and none of us actually gets around to making that banana loaf.

However, I can assure you I am still a gay person. 

We are people, not Pride

2SLGBTQ+  people like me experience marginalization. I will never negate the need to discuss this fact. 

But we are also people. We laugh, we listen to music, we get married and divorced, and we live our everyday lives. 

My identity does not have to be defined by the atrocities forced upon my community by others. My personal relationships are not transactional, nor are they for the entertainment of others. Pride Month is a public celebration, but my personal identity — my life — is not a show.

LGBTQ flag colours painted on a crosswalk
June is Pride Month, with Pride Week on P.E.I. running July 16 to 24. (Sara Fraser/CBC)

People often assume that because my wife and I are openly and visibly queer, we are caricatures. Folks expect us to be there for their entertainment, or to serve as their own personal Google service.

They’ll see us having brunch and pepper us with whatever “gay” question has been plaguing them lately. “What do you think about trans women in sports?” Or we’ll be called upon to validate their most recent microaggression. “It’s not my fault I used the wrong pronoun, right? I was trying my best.”

Frankly, it is exhausting. I would love to those questions at another time and place, but not when I am on a date with my wife. We are entitled to enjoy a meal together — just like any other couple.

This Pride, offer real support

This Pride, instead of simply going to a parade or donating to yet another white heteronormative-run organization, ask yourself this: What does it look like to put your money, time, and personal family discussions where your heart actually is? 

What does it mean to see queer people in all of their complexity? What does it mean to support your local businesses and highlight queer talent without forgetting the people behind Pride? 

Introduce a new book to your book club that celebrates queer joy (check out: You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson); attend a lecture by Dr. Omisoore Dryden of Dalhousie University to really get an understanding of the current struggles of brown 2SLGBTQ+  individuals navigating the medical system; follow a new Instagram account focusing on queer folks and parenting (check out: @nishandcolesworld and the local @thelittleislandyogi); continue to educate yourself. 

Queer identity is not to be tokenized one month a year. Consider what it looks like to extend ally-ship past Pride week and into every day of the year.

As for me and my marriage? My marriage is for me and my wife. Our family, our identities, aren’t for public consumption. 

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