Take Atlanta Pride and the queer rainbow beyond simple symbolism

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Call me Judy, because I’m over the rainbow. Seriously. The knee-jerk overuse of that particular symbol has become so annoying to me as someone who’s job is queer all year, it’s all but banned from the editorial features of the Q family of publications.

Not this week —when Q and its contributors can do more than simply slap on a rainbow and call it gay. Usually, it’s lazy. This time, it’s purposeful.

If we’re not wielding the rainbow with intention, too many assume it means “everyone” is included. Events in the streets of Atlanta, the tenor of your social feeds, and more than two-dozen alternative LGBTQ Pride flags say plenty of people don’t feel that way.

It’s the Rainbow Lie.

Other than Pride week, a carelessly flung rainbow symbol whispers that we may be taking some people for granted. It feels hollow like, if we’re not careful, we don’t recognize or honor the diversity that Atlanta is and should be known for.

Exceptional Pride, Pride exception

Pride Week is different — and not just because this is the Year of COVID with a festival completely online. This is the weekend that the flag flies and our people and those who oppose our equality see it, really see it.

This week, the flag commemorates and celebrates broad-stroke and personal achievements. It remembers and mourns losses. We notice the rainbow a bit more collectively than the rest of the year. When it flies from porches or across website banners, when it graces profile pics and corporate logos, we acknowledge that this is a special time in Atlanta.

For one weekend, it’s the rainbow that flag inventor Gilbert Baker intended back in 1978. It’s your rainbow, it’s our rainbow, and yes, it’s even the rainbow that warms the cold heart of my cynical, eye-rolling self.

Milestone year

No matter what else you say about 2020, 50 years since a handful of Atlantans marched through Midtown for “gay liberation” for the first time is notable. Whether we gather or not to mark it, whether we attend a single online event or in-person party, it’s safe to say a lot has happened in five decades.

It’s also a great weekend to remember that time will slowly reveal even more to love for all of us— for every stripe, every flag, every person behind that troublesome rainbow.

Ping me online this weekend with your Pride thoughts. I’ll be clicking, tapping and scrolling around watching Pride from COVID isolation. With the help of coffee, chocolate and a dog resting his head on my lap, I’ll also work on reconciling Judy’s personal issues with the LGBTQ rainbow and looking inward for my true colors.

Mike Fleming is editor of Q ATLus and editor and co-publisher at Project Q Atlanta. Write mike@theQatl.com.

This article appeared in Q ATLus magazine. Read the full issue online here:

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