Happy Pride, Cascadia

June is Pride month. We use this time to acknowledge the LGBTQ community and honor the memories of those who fought for their right to love and be equal. It’s an important time for all of us to reflect on the sacrifices made for equal rights, to celebrate progress in a freer society, and to recognize there’s still so much more to be done until freedom reigns truly for each of us.

With the advance of gay rights in the United States, Canada, and around the world, Pride month has evolved into more of an excuse to party in recent years. Festivities are important, but they are not and should not be the reason to mark this occasion. It wasn’t the desire to party which caused those at the Stonewall Inn–led by queer and transgender people of color, mind you–to rebel 48 years ago; it was the desire to live free with the same dignity and rights to love as everyone else.

Pride month is supposed to celebrate the spirit of resistance and overcoming prejudice. It’s important to remember and honor that. And, with regard to us here in Cascadia, it’s important we embody this spirit now more than ever.

This is not a blog post to use as an excuse to vent about particular political issues. Beyond the obvious turmoil over intolerance and authoritarianism in the United States, forces of hate are trying to establish themselves right here in Cascadia, on both sides of the US/Canada border. And, if we’re too flippant or complacent, these forces could usurp our movement for a better future.

A small amount of people in Cascadia are allowing their fears to overcome their senses and are arguing for a perverted, segregated, authoritarian vision for our region. They see the world as a battleground for rights and liberties, based on characteristics like race and religion, in a zero-sum game where one segment must win by suppressing the will of the others. They see social progress not for what it is–an expansion of freedom for all–but as a threat to their worldview and, thereby, their very personhood.

I’m not going to link to anything which can give these groups more visibility. Instead, I’ll summarize by saying that some of these people are attempting to use Cascadia as their own platform to advance fear, prejudice, and hatred. They have little influence and won’t succeed in creating a distorted world based on (what can best be described as) white national socialism. But, they can cause real damage by linking themselves to the idea of Cascadia.

Our movement is about openness and diversity. It’s about egalitarianism, love, and living true in and to the region we call home. It’s also a movement which is still in its infancy; it’s small, but growing quickly. The danger posed by these select few is that they can have a disproportionally large voice in playing to people’s fears and causing widespread backlash. If they go unchecked, they could succeed in linking themselves to the idea of Cascadia to the point where it is permanently tarnished and rejected by the very majority of people in this region we want to see become part of this movement.

Most people in this region are not familiar with the idea of Cascadia or the concepts of bioregionalism yet. However, if we are to succeed in growing this movement, we must work ever harder to ensure that it is these values which permeate throughout our speech and deeds. It is vital for each of us, from all parts of the region and (almost) all parts of the political spectrum, to stand up and counter these forces of fear and prejudice. Not in a violent sense, but in a united and forceful one.

What better way to resist than to celebrate and proclaim the very things these forces of prejudice are attempting to fight: diversity, acceptance, freedom, and love.

Pride month is about celebrating the LGBTQ community. As a gay man myself, I very much appreciate this. But Pride month should foremost be about embodying that spirit of resisting hate and working toward a better vision which is good and true. This year, Pride month can and should be about so much more in Cascadia.

Now, more than ever, it’s important for us to do this. Not just as Americans or Canadians, but as Cascadians and human beings. Ultimately, Cascadia isn’t about politics or ideologies; it’s about creating a better future in which all of us here in this region can truly be free to love, live, and pursue happiness. And yes, this future includes those who currently are inclined to concede to their fears and succumb to their prejudices. Hate is a learned behavior; it can be un-learned so that love may prevail.

It is in this spirit you, I, and everyone should go out and celebrate Pride this month. Whether you’re in Seattle, Idaho Falls, Prince George, Eureka, or anywhere in between, make sure you’re a true force of love this month and beyond. Counter hate with the same compassion you wish to see in the world and show everyone what Cascadia is really about.

Happy Pride, Cascadia! Wave that rainbow Doug flag high!

Gay Flag_Cascadia

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