This May, I was lucky enough to marry my wonderful partner—for the second time.
The first time we were married, it was a swelteringly hot July morning in Brooklyn in 2020. We wore what was in our closet, said a few words, paraded in Prospect Park with a few close friends, and signed a piece of paper with witnesses that declared us legally married in the eyes of the law the minute it was accepted by the city clerk.
The second time we were married, there were drag queen performances, custom suits, a cocktail named after our cat (“The Ginsburg”), and a hundred friends and family to participate in the Hora and a Soul Train. Except for the cat, everyone was vaccinated.
Each wedding was beautiful and highlighted the complexity of a queer relationship: our first wedding created legal protections we felt necessary, given the uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic wrought. Our second wedding was a community rite of passage and celebration of who we are as a couple.
From the mention of a Soul Train and Hora above, you would correctly assume that we are Black and Jewish. We are also many more things; trans, non-binary, queer, interfaith, and fat. We are an interracial, interreligious queer couple, and it was important to us that our wedding celebration reflect our multitudes. Our identities intersect with themselves as well as each other’s, and we wanted our wedding experience to show our pride in ourselves, who we are, how far we have come—as well as acknowledge how hard the fight can be.
This year, Amalgamated Bank is celebrating pride by lifting-up how our identities intersect with movements for social justice. We are highlighting clients and partners who are living queer lives and taking pride in fighting for positive change in areas that affect all our lives from gun violence prevention to climate change and racial justice and politics.
A quote by LGBTQ+ activist Alexander Leon has been on my mind lately: “Queer people don't grow up as ourselves, we grow up playing a version of ourselves that sacrifices authenticity to minimise [sic] humiliation & prejudice. The massive task of our adult lives is to unpick which parts of ourselves are truly us & which parts we've created to protect us.”1 Though this was written in 2020, it is all too relevant today, as hundred of anti-LGBTQ+ laws make their way through state legislatures, particularly targeting LGBTQ+ young people.
LGBTQ+ children face threats for being themselves from discriminatory and hateful laws. This is in addition to the environmental degradation and epidemic of gun violence young people already face. Marriage was a landmark win, one that many point to as a marker of progress. And yet, LGBTQ youth face relentless attacks on freedom to be themselves, to not be bullied, to use the appropriate bathroom, and to openly proclaim pride in their identities.
During Pride month, we recognize the impact of legislation and judicial opinion on our basic rights as human beings--our right to the equal legal protections, our right to be ourselves without fear, our right to love who we love. We also recognize the massive celebration of joy that we deserve as a source of positive energy in our fight for justice. Pride answers the call for more. The legacy of LGBTQ+ activism, and particularly intersectional and cross movement activism, is our community’s greatest strength. Our fight for liberation doesn’t stop at the four corners of the progress pride flag.