Perspectives on Pride

A running list of essays about the LGBTQIA+ experience, curated by Medium publication editors

The Medium Blog
Published in
5 min read5 days ago

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My favorite Medium stories teach me something I didn’t know I didn’t know. For example: A few years back, journalist Barry Yeoman spoke with more than 40 LGBTQIA+ baby boomers about their experiences growing up before the Stonewall uprising — and thus before gay rights as we know them today. As a gay millennial I could imagine, but didn’t really understand, how living through the AIDS crisis might shape your experience of seeing a doctor. Another story led me all the way back to the 1936 Olympics, where trans men and intersex people were competing professionally long before I thought they were.

Medium’s mission is to deepen our understanding of the world, and by definition that means helping us learn from people whose experiences are different than ours. For Pride month, we invited editors of a few Medium publications to share some stories that do just that. Whether you identify as lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, intersex, asexual, some combination thereof or none at all, I hope these stories deepen your understanding in some way.

In recent years, merely observing Pride has (disturbingly) become a political lightning rod and an excuse for some to react with hate. I want to pre-empt that by saying: basic human empathy and kindness are not political. Medium was (and is) built by queer people and our values — which include building a safe, inclusive platform for writers and readers — are simply our values.

One more thing: You may notice an updated Medium logo reflecting the colors of the LGBTQIA+ flag this month, too. Big ups to our design, product, and engineering teams for making that happen.

The stories below are just a tiny fraction of the LGBTQIA+ perspectives on Medium. I hope you’ll share your recommended reads in the responses! You’ll find many more in this list, which we’re updating all month, and on relevant topic pages.

Harris Sockel and the team @ Medium

P.S. If you’re a Friend of Medium, we’ve just released a new custom app icon to celebrate Pride. We hope you love it as much as we do.

My Act Up Days Show Me Queer Pride Can Look Both Backwards and Ahead” by Jean Elizabeth Glass, former AIDS activist through New York City’s ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), in Prism & Pen

This story is almost as interesting for who wrote it as it is for what’s in it. Historians mostly agree that Jean was the youngest regular member of Act Up NYC and probably of any Act Up chapter in the U.S. She was still a high school student when she started, though by the time I met her at Act Up events, she was an adult. She brought a much-needed woman’s perspective to the struggle, as well as a fairly unusual youthful energy compared to the 40 and 50 somethings (like grumpy ole Larry Kramer, lol) who founded Act Up. Jean is no longer young, of course, so as a respected queer elder, she writes this piece to share hard-earned wisdom and practical experience. — James Finn, editor of Prism & Pen

Revisiting the ‘Transgender Tipping Point’ Ten Years Later” by Julia Serano, musician, performer, activist, and author of four books including Whipping Girl (2007)

Scholar and activist Julia Serano looks back on the wave of mainstream media attention focused on trans people throughout the 2010s, arguably peaking with a 2014 cover story in TIME about a so-called “trans tipping point.” I highlighted: “Almost without exception, the mainstream media is a staunch defender of the status quo.” — Harris Sockel @ Medium

You Can’t Fight a Tidal Wave” by Jim Parton, retired teacher and funeral celebrant, in The Narrative Arc

Jim Parton’s love story is one of my favorites on Medium. He was married, but unhappy. He’s in the southern part of the midwest: “gay didn’t exist.” Finally, at 38, he leaves his marriage. Parked on Highway 101 — the coastal highway — he meets a man, and they talk for twenty minutes. They get along well! The man leaves, and for months, Jim “haunts” that parking lot. Finally, he finds his man, and the rest is a fascinating and wonderful story. — Debra G. Harman, MEd., editor of The Narrative Arc

My Tender Attachment to ‘Destination’, China’s Biggest Gay Club” by Eki in Prism & Pen

Here’s a story we just published by one of the principals of the Beijing Queer Film festival. Eki is a filmmaker and writer with an intimate storytelling voice who often provides vivid glimpses into queer life in China — something many Medium readers (like me!) know very little about. — James Finn, editor of Prism & Pen

Travel As a Practice in Self-Care” by ROSS VICTORY in Visible Bi+

Writer and musician Ross Victory draws a parallel between bisexuality and travel, observing: “Traveling permits me to step beyond geographical borders, just as being bi requires me to transcend societal binaries.” — Harris Sockel @ Medium

As Berlin Held the 1936 Olympics, These Athletes Changed Their Sex” by Tucker Lieberman in Prism & Pen

This one made me cry. A history of trans athletes in Olympic sports about 80–90 years ago, including a quote where it was said that it ‘seems like the fad of the times’ to transition. — CJ Baker, Senior Accountant @ Medium

Searching for network: an illustrated story” by Afrah Shafiq in Deep Dives

I adored this illustrated memoir from deep within the Medium archive. In a nutshell: Two gay teens find queer community by searching super deep for it on the internet, an experience I personally relate to. One quote I loved: “I realized that as I searched for myself, the world made space for me.” — Harris Sockel @ Medium

‘I’m Gay’: Telling My Husband and Children” by Mary Wise (she/her), essayist, teacher, and photographer, in Human Parts

Mary Wise on her long journey out of the closet, dangling from the cliff of alcoholism, hitting rock bottom. This story also honestly looks at the plurality of a marriage, even when it’s to the wrong person — it can bring moments of joy. — Jay Ludlow Martin, editor of Human Parts

Meeting My Son’s Other Family” by Melissa Corrigan, essayist, veteran, and mom, in Pink Hair & Pronouns

Chosen family is so important and especially for LGBTQ+ folks who may lose their families when they come out. This author’s son is so lucky, because he found a community of chosen family and also has the unconditional love and support of his family of origin, as his mom recognizes the importance of her son’s “other family” and welcomes them into their home and lives. — Dana DuBois, editor of Pink Hair & Pronouns

Read more:

What are we missing? Which stories about the LGBTQIA+ experience do you keep coming back to? Let us know in the responses.

And if you have a story to tell that’s in any way related to being gay, lesbian, bi, queer, trans, intersex, asexual, or anywhere above 1 on the Kinsey Scale, write it on Medium. Submit to one of the publications featured above, or self-publish and tag it Pride (or whatever tags mean most to you).

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