Welcome to Atlanta Pride, unwoke and newbies!

Letter writers into The Q, we're calling them Newbie and Unwoke, both find long-overdue teaching moments in equality and the joys of being out and proud on Pride Weekend.

Q:

I’m considering going to my first Pride festival, but I’m nervous someone I know will see me. I know I’m queer, but admitting it in broad daylight is scary.

Does my fear mean that I’m not ready to “come out” completely? Should I wait until my confidence is better to dip my toe into the Pride pool?

Dear Newbie:

Come on in — er, out. The water’s fine. Trusting yourself is difficult at first, but if you dig deep, you’ll find most of your answers. 

Having confidence comes with every experience in which you face a fear. 

So you’re nervous to come out of the closet and into the light. Join the millions who came before you – and the hundreds of thousands in Midtown Atlanta this weekend. It’s natural to be wary of the unexpected, but your entire future awaits you on the other side of your first festival. 

Buck up and go. You’ll most likely be comfortable within 10 minutes, and unstoppable, never to look back, in less than an hour. 

About those people you know who might see you there: Most of them are LGBTQ themselves, and all of them are on your team. Instead of fearing that they see you, start hoping they do. They can be your closest allies and support system.

Q:

I love Pride – the parties, the sexy people everywhere you turn, the flowing alcohol. But for all the talk about “community,” there are a ton of people I can’t relate to. 

Gross leather daddies, drag queens, lesbian moms with natty little kids, and those social justice freaks all just need to have a drink and chill out. I could go on.

How can I get these people to see Pride for the celebration it’s intended to be, and not a buzzkill excuse for hoisting their grossness on the world?

Dear Unwoke:

The rest of us are going to need you to think this through. The bad news is that you don’t have the key to Pride. The good news is that it’s not locked. 

Let’s start with one basic principle: There is no “normal.” Here’s another: There are as many different kinds of queers as there are different kinds of people. There is no “one community, one way” other than the hard-fought right to live and love as we choose. 

That includes you and yours partying through the weekend, as well as the fellow human beings and siblings in the struggle that you so effortlessly mock.

The very acceptance we celebrate at Pride is sorely missing from your repertoire. If you don’t learn these lessons, you’re as bad as the straight, cisgendered, fearmongering foes who’d rather not be subjected to your “lifestyle.” Think it through.

The Q is for entertainment purposes and not professional counseling. Send your burning Qs to [email protected].

Illustration by Brad Gibson

This column originally ran in Q magazine. Read the full issue below, and pick up a new edition each week.