Welcome to Queer IRL, an occasional Autostraddle community photo series that gathers little clips of lesbian, bisexual, queer and otherwise-identified women, trans and non-binary folks, just living our lives in 2021.
This edition celebrates Pride in all its current strange and amorphous moods. My instructions were simple: Take a nice picture of yourself. That’s it! You’re you! You exist! Here’s a photo. And, if you like: tell me a bit about where you’re at, what you’re feeling, how Pride lands for you this year, etc. And you did that! You sent me some photos! You told me a bit about where you’re at! I appreciate you. Happy last day of Pride month, Straddlers. We’re so grateful for your existence, today, this month, and always.
And if you didn’t get to send in a photo for the gallery and wish you could be included, too? Feel free to share your own photos in the comments.
Ashley / she/they / 27 / Mustang Oklahoma
Pride kind of feels like a vague concept this year. Part of it’s coming off the pandemic and time being weird, but also it’s my first Pride living in the southwest and it’s a struggle here sometimes. I am very Out and there’s no hiding it and people down here can find that scary. I spend a lot of time with my buddy Skeeter (pictured). The nice thing about horses is they’re always happy to be who they are and they remind me to do the same.
Joanna / She/Her / 44 / Columbus, OH (with Spenser / 5 / Yoga Mat He Thinks is His)
When I first came out, the only places you could buy freedom rings or rainbow bumper stickers or pink triangle pins were a couple of shops in the gay part of town. So it is truly wild to me that the whole month of June is now like the annual President’s Day Mattress Sale, but for rainbow merch. And even though I roll my eyes when the algorithm shows me an ad for $89 rainbow inlaid silverware, and even though we still have a long way to go, it still brings me joy. Pride is omnipresent. When I was nineteen, it felt like the only straight people who even knew about Pride were the protesters. Now all kinds of people say, “Happy Pride” like it’s a holiday. Pride stuff used to be hard to find. Now it’s hard to get away from. Given the choice, I’ll take that as a sign of progress.
Kelly / she/her / 34 / Hampton Roads, VA
Lela / she/they / getting tested at work, Berlin
Fairly content, looking forward to attending pride events and looking4love (but not in our tester’s eyes!)
Briana / She/Her / 23 / Atlanta, GA
I’m early in my queer journey, almost 3 years out to myself and friends. I’m not out to my family, and am struggling heavily with self-esteem issues regarding my sexuality and racial identity, but I am continuing to push forwards by reading a plethora of Black queer books, utilizing therapy, attending my queer-affirming church, and connecting with my best friends.
EJ and Anna / They/Them, She/Her / 40 / Stevens Point, WI
Last weekend we attended a Pride event for the first time since 2018 (yay, vaccines!). This particular event, Stevens Point Pride, holds a special place in our hearts because Central WI didn’t have a formal Pride celebration when we lived there. It’s so heartening to see other small-town and rural queer/trans people living their best lives, especially after the year we all had. We also encountered people cheering and clapping along to Anna’s “Let’s Go Lesbians!!” shirt, so our Autostraddle merch paid dividends yet again ☺️
Erin / She/Her / 23 / Ontario, Canada
(So this picture might not meet the instructions. I forgot to find one and now it is late and I am high and confused. Hopefully this will work but if not I get that it’s my bad. Thank you. Happy Pride <3)
Nabil / He / 50 / San Francisco Mission District
It’s been a hell of a decade, but I’m still here!
Emma (username biensurmacherie) / she/they / 32 / Berlin
I’m feeling proud of myself for building the life I need, focusing on my own happiness and not what others expect from me.
Bobbie Isabel Davis / she/her / 31 / from the UK, but located in Guangzhou, southern China
I am a trans lesbian (pronouns: she/her), and am married to a gorgeous bisexual lady. Despite having the innate knowledge of who I was, fear meant I came out after we got married. I risked it all after a lifetime of hiding who I was. Now I couldn’t be happier, and am hoping we become mums via IVF soon.
Jo / they/them / 35 / Washington, DC
My girlfriend took this photo while we were waiting for the train home from the DC Dyke March. It was great to be around a bunch of queers in person again!
Athena / she/her/ 24 / rural Manitoba
Pride is really important to me this year. I recently moved from a big city to a small town in the Prairies for work and at times I feel isolated from the queer community. I’m thankful that so many Pride events are being held online again this year because it reminds me that although there is a pandemic and I have moved somewhere new I am still able to celebrate and be a part of the community.
Allison St. Rock / She/Her/Hers / 33 / Morningside Park, Harlem, NYC
Hi! I’m Allison, and I’m a singer/songwriter based in NYC! This photo was taken in the park near my house while filming my first music video for my first single, “I Wanna Feel Better,” which will release on June 25th! (The song is out now on all platforms!) I’m excited for Pride this year, even though the parade isn’t happening. I’ve never been more proud to be a queer woman, and I’ve never felt more secure with who I am. I also just released a Pride Anthem called “LGBTQIA” for us all to dance to this pride!
Caitlin / she/they / 24 / Indiana, USA
One of my favorite parts of Pride is exhausting myself at the festival, wearing not enough clothing and the sweat and makeup of a million similarly exhausted queers. I’ve missed it a lot these two panini years — seeing the overwhelmingly colorful and happy community mattered more than I realized. Next year in person!
Erin Subramanian / she/her/hers / 38 / Baltimore, Maryland
Pole dancing at home has helped a lot with my mental health during the pandemic. This trick is called “shark” and I love feeling like a kickass queer shark! I’m not doing much in person for Pride this year but the enthusiasm for it online is always nice.
Laura Mandanas / she/her / mid-30s / the beach
I am SO THANKFUL to be vaccinated and alive and gay as fuck. <3
Alex & Alicja / she/her for us both / 34 and 29 / Baltic sea coast
Jackie / She/Her / 28 / Philadelphia, PA
Since we’ve all been stuck inside for so long, Pride feels extra exciting this year. Now that it’s getting safer to go out, the queers are back to partying and nature is healing! The fifth anniversary of the Pulse Massacre also serves as a reminder that there is still work to be done and that we need to continue to claim our spaces.
Lisa / she/her / 30 / Iowa
My town of Ames doesn’t do Pride until September (when the college students come back to town), but Des Moines has decided to disperse its events throughout June as opposed to having one weekend dedicated to Pride celebrations. This is most likely due in part to Covid so I keep forgetting we are having Pride at all as it feels different than previous years.
My wife and I are both extremely busy working and saving up for our wedding this fall. We got married in November the day after Ruth Bader Ginsburg died just to be safe. We live together with our 2 cats in a tiny apartment and she’s finishing grad school while I work on repaying school loans and work full time with disabled adults.
Ashley / any pronouns / 20 / Berkeley, CA
This pride season I’m taking time to figure out what queer liberation means to me. In the age of rainbow capitalism and assimilation politics, I think it’s important that we remember the radical roots of pride and continue to push the boundaries of love, self-expression, and conscious thought. Through studying lesbian history, I have tried to pick up on certain themes or constants that have defined what it means to be a lesbian, or any other sapphic aligned identity. If there’s been one thing that has been overwhelmingly clear, it’s that, in the most spiritual and intimate sense, dykes rule the world!!!
Sarah / they/she / 28 / Talladega National Forest, Alabama
Dee / she/her or they/them / 41 years old (gasp!) / Duluth, Minnesota at Adeline Inc. (a boutique hair salon for open hearted people)
I live in Minneapolis, but Duluth is my second home. Lake Superior is a nice perk. But what’s really made Duluth home for me is Adeline’s, which is the first place I ever visited in Duluth.
I wasn’t sure how Pride was going to land for me this year, but June has been fab so far! Because I’m fully vaxxed, Pride this year has been feeling safe to do self care like going to Adeline’s. And doing the very Sagittarius thing of road tripping in my camper van.
Rachel Brown / she/ her / 35 / Alberta, Canada
I’m not sure how to feel this year. There are no Pride celebrations here, although I am doing some online events focused on Indigenous perspectives. I’m Canadian, and reckoning with our history. I work in health care and I’m burnt out.
Abelina Davis / she/her / 29 / Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China
I am a bisexual cisgender woman married to a beautiful lesbian trans woman. This year’s Pride is the first one after my wife’s coming out and therefore the first one where I am visibly in a lesbian relationship. After so many years of being able to “fly under the radar” as a bi woman — I did come out at age 14 but was previously always able to choose whom to disclose my bisexuality to as I was either single or in a heterosexual relationship — it feels kinda daunting to always be automatically outed as a queer woman when I walk down the street, holding hands with my wife. At the same time, I can see how liberating it is for her to finally be able to be herself and live her truth, and that makes me happy. In a way, I had to come out all over again — I guess no one took me being bi seriously prior to my wife’s coming out — and it has made for some weird remarks (“are you lesbian now?” “Will you transition, too?”). But I am much stronger now than I was during my first coming out and I am able to educate people on my sexuality instead of simply getting angry — although it can still get incredibly frustrating.
Ann / she/her/hers / 23 / Cambridge, MA
Being queer/bi isn’t the most salient of my identities right now, but it’s still an integral part of who I am, and I love my queer community! (Boston-area folks interested in bookstore dates, hmu @garthgirl8888!)
Olivia / She/Her / 26 / NC, USA
Ellen Morton / she/her / 25 / Edinburgh, Scotland
This is my first pride being fully out to everyone everywhere (work, family, friends, literally any stranger on the street that speaks to me) which feels great. Pride in a pandemic obviously is a bit crap but I’m really getting a lot of strength and solidarity from the fact that loads of people have become so conscious of so much stuff that they weren’t before. From BLM, the Colombian strikes, Palestine solidarity, I just feel that people are all together and ready to make things change. And that means way more to me than having an in-person parade or a party. I feel that righteous gay anger is the truest pride spirit of all.
Ellie / She/Her / 37 / Paris
Caley Gervais / She/Her/Hers / 31 / Burlington, Vermont
Well, we actually celebrate Pride in September in Burlington, VT (it’s a whole thing), so I am hopeful that we may be able to have a parade/festival this year. Fingers crossed! I am just really grateful to be healthy and vaccinated and finally able to see my fellow queer bbs in the flesh! HAPPY PRIDE 🌈
Julia Rodrigues / she/her / 21
First of all, the reason I wanted to participate in this thing was to show my gratitude and how important Autostraddle has been in my journey to understand myself. Being a closet queer girl from an small religious town from Brazil meant that from the age of 14 I had to search for representation outside of my extremely heteronormative bubble. Autostraddle came into my life at that time and showed me there was a whole big world of people like me and perhaps someday I would find them. I read every article, I consider every writer like the friends I always wanted. Shout out to Valerie Anne, my favorite, who had the best recaps to my favorite tv shows and constantly succeed in making me emotional with her heartwarming words.
Right now Pride has a new meaning for me. After being pulled out of the closet at age 17, my parents are finally ok with all that I am. It’s been a hard journey of understanding myself as a bipolar bisexual woman but I can say with conviction that Autostraddle helped me all the way through it. So I thank you all for making me feel normal and part of a big family. Thank you for giving me hope.
SEREN DIVINE / Poet, Educator / she/her / 50 / Prospect Park, on the peninsula
New Yorker since 2003; Bushwick til 2013, then/now Flatbush. I am a lesbian artist, educator/teaching artist, poet, producer, photographer, lover of cats & fitness enthusiast! I love intellectual conversation, daydreaming, chess and billiards 🎱!
Stacie K / she/her/hers / 26 / Denver, CO
Pride is weird this year as I go through extensive health issues. But I’ve made a point of going out and enjoying my queer community when I’m feeling well enough, and the support really makes all the difference! Happy pride all!!
Jordan / she/her / 35 / Durham, NC
Pride feels weird this year in so many ways. I’m a pregnant, non-binary person which really has all kind of queer experiences/expectations/confusions attached to it. Has me thinking a lot about change, identity, queer family, and what do do for a party when everything is hot and all my vices are off limits! Baby pool and virgin daiquiris anyone?
Serena (on left) / she/her / 42 / San Jose, CA; Melissa (on right) / she/her / 41 / San Jose, CA; Nemo (middle) / he/him (at least for now, he likes to change them up periodically) / 4 / San Jose, CA; Charlotte (her butt and tail is photobombing the lower right corner of the pic) / she/her / 10 / San Jose, CA
We are currently super stoked to be welcoming baby #2 in early August (Melissa is carrying — Serena carried Nemo). And San Jose will be having Pride in late August (Silicon Valley Pride) and we are excited to be able to march in the parade again! Happy Pride!
Hannah Rousselot / she/her / Los Angeles
My partner took this photo of me at our very first date post vaccination. We are at a local restaurant.
Jennifer R. Ewing / she/her / 49 yo; I’ll be 50 in January / Belfast, Northern Ireland (we moved across the Atlantic about a year ago)
This was taken just before I went to Houston Pride a few years ago.
Beck / They/She / 23 / River Legacy Park, TX
I had some big identity realizations while in quarantine the past year and a half. After years of IDing as a queer trans man, I realized that I’m a nonbinary lesbian! It’s been a little stressful to navigate telling others, but I’m happier with myself than I’ve ever been. It’s been so nice to reconnect with the sapphic community that I haven’t been an active part of since I was a teen. It’s a welcome bright spot to be going into Pride with an identity that truly fits.
Emily / she/hers / 39 / Madison, WI
I’m feeling like Pride is more important than ever, by which I mean Pride’s political origins and core purpose as a liberatory force. Here in Wisconsin, we’re fighting a whole bunch of terrible bills, including ones targeting trans students. We’re dealing with all the economic and social fallout of the pandemic and its gross mismanagement by the powers that be — fallout that has fallen disproportionately on Black and Brown and queer people and their communities. I’m trying to fight off the feelings of despair, be inspired by others, and do whatever I can, no matter how small it feels, to plug in and leverage my privilege and abilities to fight back and build a better world. And while I’m at it, I’m letting my butch self embrace her swishiest parts, too, including with this sparkly crop top. Pride should always be about embracing and celebrating ALL aspects of queerness, while also working toward political and social liberation from the ground up–and having some fun and expressing ourselves as much as we can.
Snow Fell / she/her / silver fox / The Urban Lounge Parking Lot Genderfuq 6/3/2021
My band Vengeance Tampon took the stage at Genderfuq this year, with a new line-up of queer and trans bandmates! We loved playing a show to a crowd of transgressive queers for Pride!
Tracy / she/her / 42 / Tucson, AZ
I’m Tracy. I am 42 years old, disabled and queer. I have 2 rad kids, a complicated relationship with a live-in ex-husband and a lot of health problems. I love books, birds and socks. I listen to music too loudly and play Mario Kart daily. I have absolutely no idea how to make friends off Twitter! I got clean mostly alone and have no clue how to make friends as a shy, ill, introverted sober queer person (MMJ notwithstanding), especially during this horrible pandemic. Take care of yourselves!
Tucson doesn’t celebrate Pride Month until September when the heat is more tolerable. It makes sense but it feels odd and disjointed to celebrate Pride months after everyone else.
Matilda / they/she / 30 / Oxnard, CA
Just a local lover boy celebrating my first post-top surgery Pride by reading queer books in this EXTREMELY NATURAL pose!
Gill / she/her/hers / 27 / Minnewaska State Park (New York, United States)
I’m a queer lady with a couple of cats and a tortoise trying my best to stay afloat in this place. Usually do that with lots of coffee and weed and nature explorations and naps. Pride is getting to feel fully like my weird confused constantly stoned always looking for snacks and soft nap spots self. Happy pride ❤️
Bex / she/her they/them / 30
I’m entering Pride season fully embracing my identity as a Masc of center womxn, while sharing my newfound confidence with my community.
Sammie James / she or they / 32 / my home after a recent hair cut
This butch trans woman stand up comedian is tired, it’s been a long rough year for me just like it has for a lot of people but I’m happy to be here and a little hopeful for what the rest of this year has in store, I’ve never been a big pride celebration person but I find myself craving it recently. I am craving connection with my community and look forward to spending time with them once again.
Joanna / she/her / 32 / Fredericksburg, Virginia
I’m looking forward to participating in my small town’s Pride celebration this year. I am really glad to be fully vaccinated and I’m really glad that my region has pre-pandemic covid rates. It will be great to see friends at Pride and to meet new people. I’m really looking forward to it.
Shaza / She/They / Cairo, Egypt
This is my first pride out to most of my friends. Where I come from being out isn’t very common and mostly never celebrated, so this is my way of celebrating in a way. Autostraddle has always been a comfort for me as a queer TV fanatic. Thank you 😊