June 20, 2024

Pride is not a parade. Pride is, and always has been, a protest. Let’s not forget this when we see corporate companies hanging up their rainbow flags in some lame attempt at being allies.

To be an ally is to acknowledge the suffering the LGBTQIA+ community has and continues to endure. It is to take the steps to ensure that we make spaces that are safe and inclusive. It requires continual education and deep self reflection. You have to be willing to truly look at your own behaviours and see how it’s possible to do better so others feel seen and heard. No one is perfect, we all make mistakes, but it’s what you choose to do with those mistakes that’s important. I too am still learning but wish to grow. I can’t speak for the experiences of all of the LGBTQIA+ community, but I can share my thoughts and what I’ve learned so far.

My sexual orientation is queer, my gender identity is genderqueer/pangender, my gender expression is mainly “feminine” and I’m a white, working class, somatic facilitator, and it is from this viewpoint from which I write. Firstly, we must acknowledge our privilege. I can see the privilege I have. We can pretend it isn’t a “thing” or even worse, wash it over with spiritual bypassing, claiming that everyone is one, we all emerge from the same thing and everyone is equal. And whilst this is fundamentally true, from a tantric perspective we are all God/Divinity/Expressions of the Universe/Wisdom/whatever you choose to call it, it doesn’t remove the years of systemic discrimination which is still present in society. Or, we can use whatever privilege we have as a platform for others to speak, or to share information.

As someone who doesn’t like labels I certainly gave quite a handful for my introduction, and if you don’t know what any of it means don’t worry, I’m going to break that down now. My queer sexual orientation simply means that my sexuality is fluid and I can be attracted to all genders. Gender identity is how a person feels about their gender. I have spent a long time unpicking my gender and the thoughts I held around it. I consider myself pangender, I feel like I contain many fluctuating genders, again it feels fluid. I am AFAB (assigned female at birth) and my gender expression (how we express gender through appearance) is mainly “feminine”. This results in me getting misgendered a lot! I don’t tend to mind what pronouns people use for me (preferably she/they/them) but I certainly don’t identify as a woman. I’ve attended circles, classes and gatherings where everyone there presents/ was born as a woman and the language used is heavily focused on “womanhood”. I’ve attended sessions where womanhood= menstruation which then pushes out our trans sisters. I’ve seen events that have tried to split the non binary community in two depending on what lies between their legs. Gender is complicated, but how people wish to be acknowledged is important so therefore worth learning. The LGBTQIA+ community have moved beyond the binary of gender, they have repainted it anew with every colour imaginable, and such expression deserves celebration.

Studios should allow for LGBTQIA+ members to feel brave enough to step into the space being unapologetically themselves. To let people take up space who may have lived their lives squashing themselves into a shape that was a terrible fit in the past. Many of the LGBTQIA+ community have experienced trauma and abuse, so being able to make people feel comfortable is of great importance. At Heather Yoga we have several teachers who have taken further trauma informed training, myself included. I’ve often seen within the LGBTQIA+ community that there a specific “safe zones” where we can be together, and whilst there is such beauty in being with folk who just “get it” (I too very much enjoy my little queer spaces) it makes me wonder about this boundary of “us and them”. In a world where constant horror continues to unfold can’t we just hold out a hand and embrace one another for who we are? Can we not all come together to witness and enjoy the beauty of human expression and be inspired by one another?

Written by our wonderful teacher Kylie Darling.