Friday, July 1, 2022

My Alternative Lifestyle: Gay Pride During the Pandemic: My Unexpected Digital Media Celebration

Gay Pride flags - getty_544473203_970647970450095_60110
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*This year marked the best celebration of Gay Pride I’ve experienced in 40 years of being an out lesbian. The month of June kicked off Gay Pride celebrations and parades across the country. But in 2020, most of the country is just re-opening after a mandated “stay-at-home” order to decrease the spread of a global pandemic, Covid-19.

Gay Pride has been overshadowed by a range of events: anti-racism protests, the killing of black men and women by police officers, the killing of Black Transgender women, a rising death toll and millions of people unemployed amidst a global pandemic. Given my own intersectionality of experiencing sexism, homophobia and racism, I understand the significance of Pride taking a backseat to these grave issues. I am a Black woman before I am a lesbian. It wasn’t realistic to expect to secure media interviews as a subject matter expert on lesbian issues given the current climate. If anything, I was hopeful to secure an interview once Covid-19 is contained. But lo and behold, God had something better in store. I had six virtual interviews that reached thousands of people.

My publicist called early one morning to inform me that she had secured a virtual interview with Curve Magazine,the nation’s best-selling lesbian publication. But God wasn’t finished. A friend who was once a business acquaintance contacted me when his ERG (employee resource group) at Oracle was interested in having me speak during their 24-hour virtual Pride. I was in awe when he suggested he interview me during a segment that would be accessible from Oracle’s offices in North America, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. He stated it was perfect timing given that my first novel, Pretty Boy Blue– 2ndEdition, had just become a #1 international best-seller for Lesbian Romance on Amazon.

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Pretty Boy Blue Front Cover

To be interviewed by a highly-respected Diversity & Inclusion consultant for Oracle was a dream come true. OPEN (Oracle Pride Employee Network) is the leading ERG at Oracle. A corporation is only as good as its culture. The feedback from Oracle employees was overwhelming. Some had purchased my book before the interview went live. Others sent requests to connect on my social media platforms. I was floored when I was personally thanked by a senior vice president for my participation.

After seeing my Oracle posts on my social media platforms, a coordinator requested an interview for the Queer Women of Pride Arts and Music Festival. Two days later, I was surprised when a talent producer requested an interview with host Danielle Moodie of “Woke AF” and “PMMood”and co-host of the podcast “democracy-ish.” Danielle Moodie is also a political columnist at Medium’s Zora Magazine. My publicist called againwith more good news. She had secured another virtual interview with Art Sims for “The Real Chat Daddy Show” via Facebook Live. Sims, affectionately known as “Chat Daddy,” was the previous host and executive producer of “Real Talk, Real People with Chat Daddy,” a nightly entertainment show on WVON 1690AM Chicago.  She stated that there was a “bonus” to the request. Art was looking for a mother who had a gay or lesbian child to join the interview. I tentatively asked my mother to join us and she nervously agreed. My mother was a hit as she answered questions on how her denial of my sexuality turned into unconditional love over time.

I was humbled by the fact that these highly respected professionals wanted to interview me. As I reiterated my story in each interview, I realized that my story was the story of many individuals who may not have a voice.

Out of all the Pride interviews, the final interview – an event on my Instagram account – meant the most. As my contribution to Pride, my 28-year-old son agreed to let me interview him what it was like growing up with a lesbian mother. Our objective was to provide understanding and compassion to other same-sex parents who are struggling with stigmas while raising children. We were nervous as we posted the live event on Instagram. Little did he know that I was more nervous than he was. It occurred to me that we never had a heart-to-heart conversation on what it was like for him to be raised by an out lesbian mother in the mid-‘90s.

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We wanted our dialogue to be organic as, in response to my questions, he gave answers I was afraid to hear. We joked and sipped cocktails to settle our nerves. We laughed at vivid memories we once cried over. It was as though we were relieved to release the toll that my coming out had taken on our lives. I was surprised at the support we received from more than 50 live viewers. That number increased to more than 1,200 by the beginning of the next week. The comments were kind and supportive as individuals from all over the country thanking us for providing insight on such a personal journey. Some of them were struggling with the same issues.

I am proud of my son for being courageous enough to place himself in such a vulnerable position. If I never knew it, I know it now. My son loves me unconditionally and that is all that matters.

As the country is engaged in a battle to address diversity, inclusion, social justice and a stronger awareness of our shared humanity, I am proud to have had so many opportunities to tell my story and raise my voice in celebration of the LGBTQ experience. That has made this year’s Pride Month my personal best.

monika pickett (pink)
Monika Pickett

Monika M. Pickett‘s latest release, Pretty Boy Blue – 2nd Edition, has become the number one best-seller on Amazon.com in the U.S. and Canada across multiple categories including lesbian romance and LGBTQ fiction. The sequel, The Darkest Shade of Blue, is available on Amazon.

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