Mayyadda (she/her) is a successful musician and this pride month we have chosen to partner with strong allies like her to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. Many of our pride ambassadors share experiences that questioning young people experience as they begin to discover their true selves.
We hope that hearing these stories will help others on their journey of their own self-love and pride.
Mayyadda, many of those we talked to about pride talked a lot about personal pride, but you see it to be much more than that?
Pride is a reminder to me of the level of violence that queer and trans people experience in this world just for existing.
Pride is a call to tangibly celebrate the lives of those who are rarely celebrated.
And I don't mean with just corporations unfurling Pride merch and campaigns but also with laws, so that discrimination against queer and trans people isn't legal.
I see pride through changes in beliefs and hearts so there are no straight parents who feel justified in turning their queer and trans children out onto the street, with resources being reallocated in ways that allow queer and trans people easy access to that which they need to not just survive but to thrive.
Pride is also a personal reminder to become more and more awestruck and enamored with my own queerness and fullness each passing year.
What is your first step to this higher vision of Pride?
Do research so you don't ask people intrusive, dumbass questions about genitalia, surgeries, who they sleep with etc. That directly leads to point 2: be respectful.
Satisfying your curiosity is not a good enough reason to intrude into the private matters of someone, especially someone who is a virtual stranger. Speak up when you hear queerphobic, transphobic shit. You have the power to make bigotry intolerable in the spaces you are in.
Redistribute resources to queer and trans people, particularly black trans women and trans women of color. Queer and trans folk are more likely to be impoverished or houseless than straight, cis people. Working towards a safer and more just world for all includes making sure the most marginalized of us are no longer marginalized.
One small way to do that is literally pay people. GoFundMe, Venmo handles etc. are constantly being dropped on the internet for Black and Brown queer and trans people experiencing houselessness or fundraising for medical needs: give directly to them. It does not have to be through an organization. There's so much more but that's my start.
What did the journey to acceptance feel and look like for you?
I was a senior in college and a friend mentioned being demisexual. When I asked her to explain, I was like, "Welp, that sounds like me." (a demisexual is one who feels sexual attraction once an emotional connection is built)
It took me years to really look into it, though. I was raised with a lot of Christian purity culture. It never occurred to me that being queer was even something I could explore. It's taken a process of first realizing that I'd been lied to regarding queer and trans people. Once I saw it as my responsibility as a presumed-straight person to be a good ally, my understanding went from, "It's well and good for people to be queer and trans," to, "It's well and good for ME to be queer."
It felt incredibly uncertain, as along my way, I've basically had to shed every fundamental belief about the world and myself that I was raised with, and I'm honestly still disentangling myself from it all. But, I see how beautifully powerful and infinitely creative queer people are, and I've seen how that power and creativity has been present in my own self and many of those close to me. It gives me strength to continue to be brave and explore myself more fully.
How would you describe being ace/asexual?
For an allosexual (one who experiences sexual attraction) person, sexual, romantic, and aesthetic attraction is frequently intertwined to the extent that they are indistinguishable, and sometimes seen as a single thing.
For me, and anyone on the spectrum of asexuality, attraction works differently. We may not experience sexual attraction at all, or may only experience it under specific circumstances (demisexual folks, for example).
This doesn't mean that asexual people are prude, repressed weirdos, or whatever else people assume about us. Many of us have fulfilling romantic and sexual relationships; they just may require some creative problem solving if a partner is allosexual.
What advice would you give to someone struggling with their truth?
Two things: the importance of honoring yourself first and chosen family. First, don't feel pressured to come out to anyone but your damn self. It is most important for you to be able to honor your own truth about who you are and make space for it. Trust that you have the judgment to know who is worthy of hearing your truth when you are ready. And remember that chosen family can be closer to you than your family of origin. Rely on them!
Resources for trans and queer youth