by Matt Comer (he/him) Director of Operations and Communications, Charlotte Pride
What is Pride?
That’s a question every Pride organizer and, certainly, many LGBTQ community members ask themselves at least once in their life.
Is Pride merely a once-annual event? A flash-in-the-pan moment of celebration and revelry?
Is Pride a protest? A continuation of the historic liberationist movement spawned in the early-to-mid 20th century and catapulted to national and international prominence following the Stonewall Riots in 1969?
Is Pride an organization? An event committee? A feeling or state of being?
For nearly 15 years, I’ve been intimately involved in Pride Movement organizing, first in our local area with Charlotte Pride and, in recent years, increasingly so in the regional, national, and international movements. In all my time and all my discussions, I’ve never met a Pride organizer or community member who can settle on just one definition of Pride. Ultimately, that’s because there is none.
Pride is many things, wrapped into one big symbolic and ideological cultural understanding that has practical, real-world implications for people.
Allow me to proffer another understanding of “Pride,” perhaps one many have already understood and others may only be beginning to see: “Pride” as a verb.
Think back to your elementary school grammar lessons and what you learned of verbs: they are words that express a state of action or of movement. When we <serve> others, <advocate> for others, <collaborate> with others, and <build> a community with others — all of these words we use are verbs. And each of these actions, I’d argue, are as every bit essential to a definition or understanding of Pride as any other.
Pride season across the Carolinas has come and gone this year. The parties, parades and marches, festivals and picnics — all these temporal affairs and events come and go but just once each year. What remains for the rest of the year, through the fall or winter, and onward into spring?
When we begin to think of Pride as a verb, as many of us already do, we can see how we can keep the joy, inspiration, camaraderie, and empowerment we all feel at Pride events alive throughout the year. We can understand Pride as service, solidarity, and support.
It’s one thing to take Pride in yourself, as you rightly should, but it’s quite another rewarding experience to take Pride — <as a verb> — in your community.
This kind of understanding of Pride is especially relevant as we enter the final weeks of the year and a time of thanksgiving, family, friends, and celebration.
As November draws ever closer, polls will open and you’ll have an opportunity to cast your ballot. Will you participate and vote for candidates who have our community’s best interest in mind? (You can vote early now through Nov. 5 in North Carolina and on Election Day itself on Nov. 8. Learn more at ncvoter.org.)
As the days grow colder and darker, people in our community will have real needs: clothes, jackets, and coats; meals for families and gifts for kids; and assistance paying rent and energy bills. How will you support them?
As the year eventually comes to a close, the nonprofit organizations which serve our community will ask for your gifts of money or time. They’ve spent the past 300 days supporting the people without whom community could not exist. What will you do to give back? Will you pledge to volunteer, committing your time as a servant leader in solidarity with the community? Will you pledge or contribute gifts of monetary support, enabling our local organizations to thrive well into the next year?
What will you do? How will you Pride? Whatever you decide, there’s no better time than now to make it happen — and to keep making it happen every day, every week, every month, all throughout the year.
•Do Pride with Pride:• Come do Pride with us! Learn more about open volunteer leadership roles and opportunities with Charlotte Pride at our 2023 Volunteer Leadership Kickoff event, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 6-8 p.m., at Pinhouse, 2306 Central Ave. Learn more and peruse open leadership positions at cltpri.de/kickoff.