June 7, 2024

Celebrate Pride Month

Please read the following message from Sasha Romero (in photo above), MSM trombone faculty member and Principal Trombone in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra 

Pride. That thing which is beyond self-worth, but an assurance of one’s dignity and value as a human. When we talk about Pride Month, we often skip over why we call it Pride Month in the first place, rather than LGBTQ+ Awareness Month or Liberty Month or something similar.

From the 1969 Stonewall Uprising to memorials of those lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS to worldwide celebrations of the community and allies proudly waving the Pride flag, Pride Month honors the impact of LGBTQIA2+ individuals.

 

MSM mascot Manny celebrating Pride month

 

REFLECTING ON SHAME

Although many cultures across the world and throughout time have been accepting of gender and sexual minorities, I cannot help but reflect upon the feeling of Shame that is still a reality for many in our community.

I grew up in a small town in Texas during the 2000s when “gay” was one of the worst insults one could receive, and I received it frequently. My femininity as a closeted trans woman was reviled and sometimes literally beaten out of me.

The shame of being different in a historically sex-negative, puritanical, and patriarchal culture seeps into your bones.  It doesn’t just make it difficult to see our true selves; it often makes it impossible to even conceive of what we are missing.

IT TAKES BRAVERY, AND HARD WORK

It takes bravery and hard, sometimes painful, work to have Pride in oneself, take ownership of one’s happiness separate from the world’s judgment, smile in the face of oppression, and boldly proclaim that I am worthy. Worthy of taking up space, of existing in equality, worthy of being who we truly are without qualification, justification, or excuse. We deserve not to have to fight to live in this world as easily as those at the top of the social hierarchy, and we are not there yet.

Pride Month is a demand for respect and to unify the power of our community, even when it means a radical departure from the rules and norms that those in power enforce. For me, Pride means “We will continue to declare our intent to take hold of and protect our dignity as equal humans, even if you do not allow us to do so.”

It is not always a fluffy, feel-good slogan. It is also an act of defiance in the face of those who want nothing more than for us not to exist. A defiance of the Shame that we have been forced to internalize within ourselves.

It is a fight to love who we are, not who we are “supposed” to be: unassuming, unproblematic, and unseen. Our community has historically stood up to those who benefit from LGBTQIA2+ oppression and we will continue to do so for social progress.

From History.com – Marsha P. Johnson (Transgender American gay liberation activist) at a Gay Liberation Front demonstration at City Hall in New York City

WE MUST ACT AND BE ADVOCATES

That fact begs the question: What can I do to help? This question has always been a challenge for me, but the best advice I can offer is to do what you can. Though it may sound cliché, every little bit truly matters.

We must act and be advocates — I truly believe that acts of kindness, both small and large, will make a difference. Change starts locally, within your own household, friend group, or yourself. We can support our LGBTQ+ friends and family, write to Congress, protest, vote, and make the world kinder for the marginalized.

Educate those around you when they act in bigoted ways and stay informed. For me, I make sure I am informed on issues like the over 500 anti-trans bills, climate change, education, abortion, and gay marriage. As musicians, we build communities by creating beautiful music, inspired by others and created for others.

WE DO NOT EXIST IN A VACUUM

We do not exist in a vacuum — we play, record, and write music for other people and music is an action we take in community with others. No LGBTQIA2S+ person discovers their identity in isolation, and it is important to remember that fact when we think about how we can best celebrate Pride Month as musicians. When we think about how to change the world for the better, we must always focus on the human and the community.

Today, let us act and listen to LGBTQIA2+ voices in music. Below are a few recommendations and we encourage you to look deeper into the music and life of these artists.

RECOMMENDED MUSIC:

 

BE JOYFUL

The most radical thing one can do in the face of oppression and chaos is to be joyful. Do not let those who hate us take your joy away. Dance, laugh, make music, and enjoy the company of our fellow humans.

To quote Leonard Bernstein: “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” And in the face of overwhelming chaos and darkness, I will quote Dylan Thomas: “Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.”

Together, we will bring the light back to our world, one glorious, beautiful, excellent, hopeful, joyful note at a time. Let us be strong. Strive for beauty. Stand together against oppression and marginalization. And let us strive for peace and happiness.

With Pride,

Sasha Romero
MSM Trombone Faculty
Principal Trombone, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra

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