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What Pride Means in a New Era of Prejudice

Ed Letter

The first time I marched in a Pride parade, I was 25. The New York governor had just signed the state’s marriage equality act into law, and NYC was quite literally exploding with rainbow flags and confetti. My boyfriend and I walked hand in hand down the length of Manhattan until our arms hurt from waving and holding up celebratory signs, which read, “Thank You, Governor Cuomo!” (Happier times for us all, indeed.) Afterward, we danced the night away on the streets of the West Village. We were exhausted, delirious, and in awe of the history happening around us and the sheer joy of Pride itself. That day in 2011 — and indeed, my life, up until that point — felt like a march of progress, moving inexorably forward toward greater equality.

It’s hard to wear those rose-tinted glasses in 2022. As of press time, more than 300 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures this year. Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which restricts education of sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools, has become the poster child for this bigoted legislation. But similar bills have been introduced in over a dozen other states. Transgender students and athletes are likewise under attack. After years of progress in public attitudes toward LGBTQ+ people, right-wing lawmakers have found yet another way to legislate hate and rev up their base.

It’s a lot to contend with, particularly following an era of pandemic-related stresses and Pride cancellations and restrictions. While we may see less carefree street-dancing this year, Pride will undoubtedly return to its roots as a demonstration of visibility and might against those who would seek to erase and oppress. As the old battle cry goes, “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!”

In Out’s Pride issue, we’re proud to feature folks who embody this ethos. In these pages are portraits from groups leading the march: drag legends bringing light and leadership to their communities, leathermen fighting against stigma and embracing sex positivity, and LGBTQ+ creatives (including Big Freedia!) transforming New Orleans.

Speaking of Pride and Prejudice, Fire Island director Andrew Ahn discusses how the Jane Austen novel inspired a groundbreaking new rom-com set on the famous LGBTQ+ locale, while one of its stars, Margaret Cho, talks about being a house mother for the cast and a new generation of out Asian comedians. Additionally in film, the lead of Firebird shares the chilling relevance of his gay Cold War romance, while Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes analyzes the historical gay roots of the franchise and the new film. On the other side of the screen, the director of Outfest shares photographs, memories, and lessons from 40 years of LGBTQ+ film festivals.

And then there are our cover stars, the LGBTQ+ cast members of Hacks: Carl Clemons-Hopkins, Hannah Einbinder, Johnny Sibilly, Mark Indelicato, Megan Stalter, and Poppy Liu. The GLAAD Award-winning series, centered on an aging comedian seeking to reinvigorate her career, marks a watershed in television for its rainbow ensemble. They not only defy tropes — they make us laugh! And all the while, the show is quietly redefining queerness for audiences by showcasing our humanity, warts and all. Additionally, each actor is part of the next generation of LGBTQ+ Hollywood and brings their own unique rainbow light to the media landscape. Get to know them better in the cover spread.

Dear reader, whether you’re marching in the street or watching Hacks in the sheets, let’s celebrate our community this season by reminding our foes that we won’t be silenced. Say gay. Say transgender. Say lesbian. Say bisexual. Say queer. Say whoever you are or want to be. And we say to you: Happy Pride!

Sincerely,
Daniel Reynolds
Editor in Chief

This article is part of Out's May/June 2022 issue. Support queer media and subscribe — or download the issue through Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or Apple News. 

Related | Cover Stars: Hacks Is the Next Generation of Queer TV Comedy

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