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Remember when LGBT activists used the phrase “it’s a movement, not a market” to describe what they viewed as the commercialization of Pride festivals?
This June, there has been a whole lot of marketing going around as cities celebrate Pride. As a publisher, I’ve been receiving emails almost daily with press releases about offers ranging from panties, to dental care, to cable television and more. And they all use the words Pride or Equality to promote their products and services.
We don’t publish free publicity for companies like these. What they are promoting isn’t news. Their message is an ad. (And even if we did promote these kinds of companies for free, we couldn’t because they had already missed our June print deadline.)
My good friend Charles Ferruzza called me recently about a story he was writing in The Pitch on Pride festivals in Kansas City. He asked me whether I thought that Pride festivals are still relevant. I had to think for a minute before answering, but then I said yes.
I hesitated because I was considering how much of Pride festivals today may be less about LGBT equality and perhaps more of a party for everyone, LGBT or straight. But I still think that Pride festivals are relevant because it’s the one opportunity every year for members of the LGBT community to come together, have fun, and hopefully get a dose of energy to continue fighting for equality.

Personally, one of the things I’ve always enjoyed about going to Pride festivals -- and AIDS Walk, too, each April -- is visiting the vendor booths to learn about the many groups that work with the LGBT community and to meet the people involved.
I also mentioned to Ferruzza that the parades have always been one of my favorite components of Pride festivals. I’ve had good experiences watching the parades in Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., when I lived there in years past. And I always enjoyed the Pride parades we used to have in Kansas City, although it has been several years since we’ve had one. Many Kansas Citians travel to other cities’ Pride festivals for their parades and entertainment.
We are publishing this July issue of Camp one week before Kansas City Pride on June 20-22 and St. Joseph Pride on June 20-21. I’ll be going to both events to visit with people, take photos and see what the festivals have to offer. St. Joe will be having a parade (see Brad Osborn’s story on page four), and that should be fun to see people marching and celebrating.
Last year, St. Joe’s LGBT community scheduled its first-ever Pride festival for the third weekend in June, specifically to avoid conflicting with Kansas City Pride, which has historically been celebrated the first weekend of June. For next year, I hope that Kansas City Pride will move its festival back to the first weekend of June, because holding two regional Prides the same weekend is difficult for the attendees as well as the exhibitors who have to find people to staff two different vendor tables in two cities on the same weekend.
Wherever you may be celebrating Pride this summer, whether regionally or farther away, I hope you enjoy your festival and remember how it all began with the Stonewall riots and the fight for LGBT equality.
And yes, buy some rainbow beads from the marketers who want to show their support during Pride month. We can use our gay dollars to help companies that not only want our business, but support our organizations. But we can’t forget why we celebrate -- and why Pride festivals are still relevant.
What are your thoughts about Pride? Share them with us at jlong@campkc.com in about 250 words or less for our next issue.
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How to talk about transgender issues

So how do we talk about transgender issues (even if you're not transgender)? There are three main things to remember when discussing transgender issues today, so before getting into the meat and potatoes of it all, let's keep these things in mind:

  1. It is not a political discussion, it is a human rights discussion.
  2. There is a rich history rooted in transgender rights that must be considered when discussing these issues.
  3. Humanization should always be at the forefront of the conversation.

Before going into any conversation, no matter who it's with, try to keep these things in mind before you say something that may be inappropriate, misguided, or just plain wrong. Even those with the best intentions can mess up; remember that it is always ok to admit when you do not know something or when you are wrong. That being said, let's get into it.

sign with a 'friendly for all genders' image showing a person in a wheelchair, and a person with half a dress and pants on.

Transgender bathroom bills

commons.wikimedia.org

So whether you choose to become a transgender activist or if you just want to be a better ally, this easy talking point will generally keep you in line and on the safe side of conversations while still putting forth the effort to encourage and better represent transgender rights.

Easy, all-around approach: This will work for almost all transgender issues and expand on the previous three rules; firstly, trans issues are not a debate. When discussing with someone, do not indulge in hypotheticals and always remember that transgender people are the exact same as anyone else, with the exact same feelings. Keeping this in mind, let's use the bathroom bill as an example. When discussing this issue, one should humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation. How does one employ this, though? Here is an example of how the conversation may go.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restroom, they will rape my daughters.

So this statement is clearly based on reactionary conversation perpetuated by anti-transgender ideals. This means that the person probably has a misconception of the history and oppression of transgender people. They also show concern for their family, which is a step towards humanization, despite the misconception. Here would be an appropriate response that helps to humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation.

Person 2: I don't want men in the women's restroom, either, which is why we need to make sure people who identify as women are using the women's restroom. There has never been a documented case where a transgender person has raped either a man or woman in a public restroom. And by forcing people to use a restroom that does not match their gender identity, it is promoting violence, as there is a strong history of physical violence against transgender people.

By only saying about three sentences, you are able to do the previous steps while discussing the issue in a civil manner without opening it up to debate. The key to this is to keep it short and sweet, stating both the truth and an ally's stance to support the transgender community. It's critical to make sure that what you say is backed with confidence, though, which is why this second approach is more encouraged as it gives the person speaking more confidence in their opinion.

gif of a man in a suit talking about number 1. Number 1 GIF by PragerU Giphy

The second approach: backed by facts and history, is the exact same as before, but this approach leaves the other person with more questions about their stance and gives them something to consider. Before going into this approach, however, it is important to keep in mind that you are not debating the existence of trans people, nor are you trying to change someone's mind. That is not the goal; the goal is simply to get your opinion across in a way that honors both the trans community and their ideas. Let's take the same example as before but add the new sentiments.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restrooms, they will rape my daughters.

Person 2: There has never been a documented case of a transgender person raping anyone in a public restroom, and the only published cases of such were proven to be false. Further, when people say things like this, they are perpetuating violence against transgender people, which has historically (and still does) oppressed and insight further physical violence against them. And honestly, the most common reason there is this stance is because the person typically does not know a trans person and may not even know a person who does know a trans person. But the truth is, they probably do. The probability is more likely that the transgender people around them are just not comfortable enough in the environment to come out and speak up about their gender identity. And yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it is quite sad that some people's opinion does not invite civil discussion but instead incites violence.

This approach is more confrontational, which requires more confidence when using it in a conversation, but it still holds true to all of the previous rules and sentiments. It adds truth based on history, which is an important aspect of trans rights as it reminds people of where we were/ where we are currently with human rights. These ideas can be transferred to most all trans issues and will honor the transgender movement and your allyship. The last thing to keep in mind is the person or reason you are standing up for/with trans rights. The passion -the compassion will shine through in conversation if you keep your reasoning close to heart. Whether it is because of a transgender friend, family member, or just because of your moral values, if you put your emotions into your reasoning, it will create more compelling statements, especially if the statement is well versed with the facts.

Tips to Remember When Discussing Transgender Issues

  1. Transgender issues are not political, they are human rights issues
  2. There is a rich history behind transgender issues
  3. Humanize transgender people through our words and ideas and don't forget to include:
    • 3(b). The facts
    • 3(c).The confidence
    • 3(d). The inspiration behind the support for transgender rights

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Photo courtesy of Amazon Prime

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