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The Power of Pride: Pieces of Ourselves Slowly Raining Down.

Below is an audio recording below if you would prefer to listen rather than read.


The Power of PrideKatherine Edmonds




Happy Pride! I am writing this post in June, the official month of Pride. I actually planned to write this post a year ago! That obviously didn’t happen, but here we are in Pride month again! This past weekend my wife and I attended Pride in the nearby town of Albany, Oregon. There was a surprisingly large turnout for such a small community, and we fully enjoyed the day, celebrating its end with a drag show that same evening. 


Afterwards, I kept thinking about the idea that pride is power, that having pride in who you are comes with power, something I saw on full display at the drag show. The power in the room that night was palpable. As I watched the people in that audience react to the drag performers, I noticed there was a collective sense of euphoria. Many people think of drag as only silly, campy and fun, but what we were seeing that night was people stepping into their power, being authentically themselves in a way that’s rarely seen or felt in our daily lives. I said to my wife, “moments like this make me so sad for people who won't come to drag shows or who think drag is dangerous or bad,” because those folks are missing out on an opportunity to truly see and accept the power of authenticity, one of the most spiritual experiences I’ve had in this world. 


But arriving at this perspective hasn’t been easy for me. Truthfully, in the past I have had mixed feelings about Pride, wanting to go to the activities and really embrace my community, but at the same time falling prey to the idea that being proud is being “too much” or shoving it in peoples faces. It has taken me a long time to realize that messaging is designed to keep me and my community small and quiet, stiflingly one-dimensional.


I was 18 years old the first time I saw a drag show. My friends and I were in Key West for our senior trip, and a few of us snuck into a bar with fake IDs just for fun. There happened to be a drag show that night. I remember distinctly the way that night made me feel - euphoric, seeing these folks in their authenticity, just like at the drag show in Albany. Despite the power of that experience, it took me almost another ten years to come out, mainly because of all the messaging at the time about queer people being monsters or pariahs in their communities. And since I didn't feel like either of those things, I made the rational assumption that I couldn't possibly be queer.


But over the years my authentic self kept knocking on the door, begging to be let out, and eventually, though fearfully, I granted myself permission to make small changes and feel temporarily unsafe so that I might begin stepping into my power and be truly authentic, truly three-dimensional.




This path of finding a three-dimensional self has awakened a creativity that I never thought existed in me. My creative path feels similar to the same process I went through to come out, I am slowly allowing authentic ideas to rain down and mustering up the courage to share them with the world. And yet even now, sharing this photo of myself under a cloud with a rainbow umbrella brings up a lot of fear for me. While working on this object, I saw this cloud mobile unfolding before me, and in that process I saw myself under the cloud with a rainbow umbrella. When I had that vision, I knew that was going to be my product picture. Yet, my inner critic says “Oh, this is stupid. It's just a cloud with raindrops hanging down. Anybody can make it.” And yeah, that's true, but that doesn’t change the fact that I went through a long process to make it my own, and what I have created is quintessentially reflective of myself. The object is part of who I am, and I am part of the object. If I’m not brave enough to be in the picture and be proud of my object then how can I be proud of myself?


I know now that this fear is just trying to keep me safe, but ultimately, I will feel safer in my true form, allowing people to see all of me, the queer version of me, the gender queer version of me, the neurodivergent version of me, not editing myself to feel safe. I have come to realize that changing who you are so others can feel comfortable, changes your form from three-dimensional to one-dimensional, and I can't really step into my power until I allow myself to be the full three-dimensional version of myself. 


I recently read a David Bowie quote that gave me the push I needed to share this post, “ If you feel safe in the area that you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth, and when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.” 




Finally, I feel ready to go a little further into the water. Getting to this place has been a process, a long, hard fought, hard won process. Now, I love all those different stages of me, all the variations it took to get where I am today. And I love who I am right now. I can stand under this cloud, loud and proud, having created an image of something new and different, not a one-dimensional version of Katherine, a woodworker - but all of me.


To me pride month is about being proud of the process you went through to create and reveal yourself. And I just want that little queer version of me that was unsure and not fully formed to know that someday she’ll be standing under a rainbow umbrella under a beautiful object that she created, fully formed into a wonderful human being, loving who she loves, looking how she wants to look, making the things she wants to make, unapologetically three-dimensional.



 


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