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Queer Joy As Empowerment

Today’s climate of hostility and violence calls for us to revel in queer joy. That’s right, resistance needs joy!

I’ve been engaged in social change work for decades, and specifically at Outright for over ten. I’ll be honest, there are days where living as a queer and trans person in these times with the current political climate is just grueling, simply exhausting, and outright demoralizing. There really are no words.

And I am a well-resourced human, surrounded by a beautiful family, chosen and otherwise. I take time to do what I can to counter the constant noise coming in. But when the truth of what happened to O’Shea Sibley and Nex Benedict are more and more the norm, the habituation of today’s realities is a lot..

I look back to see what has propelled us through over time, and what’s clear is this: queer joy will not only get us through, it will make us thrive! This morning is one of those days, I need to get back on the queer joy train. And ideally, you are riding alongside me. Here’s why:

The Essence of Queer Joy & Why it Matters

Queer joy is truly something special. It’s self-acceptance, community, power, and the vibrant celebration of identity. And it transcends mere happiness; it’s about finding authenticity and courage in the face of oppression. It fosters hope, resilience, and belonging, and allows us to keep on keeping on in our collective journey towards liberation.

Here are just a few folks who have brought tremendous, life-giving queer joy into my life of late: Alok Vaid-Menon, adrienne marie brown, Audre Lorde, Eileen Myles, Ocean Vuong, and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy. These brilliant humans, alongside movements like the Black Joy Project and historical acts of resistance like Elie Wiesel’s Hanukkah in Auschwitz illustrate the multifaceted expressions of queer joy and why it matters. And when I reflect about lessons learned from working with LGBTQ+ youth, I know the essence of queer joy is found in the ability to know one's true self, the power to use our voices, and the freedom to spaciously explore our multitudes.

Queer Joy as Resistance

Queer joy stands as a defiant celebration against ever limiting social norms and ongoing oppression. At the root, it makes more space for everyone. We lean into each other's stories, and lift each other up. By being witnessed as we are, we reclaim our collective space in a world that seeks to marginalize us over and over again.

The Impact of Celebrating Queer Joy

From drag queens and Ball Culture to TV shows like "Queer Eye" and popular YA books like “Heartstopper,” these unapologetic expressions of queer joy don’t just create pathways for self-acceptance. Bit by bit, they advance a more just society. Marches, rallies, and the increasing visibility of LGBTQ+ individuals in positions of power further underscore the transformative power of this joy. And while LGBTQ+ youth desperately need to see possibilities for their full selves, so do each and every one of us. Regardless of how you identify, there’s something in queer joy for all of us.

So, will you consider the influence queer joy has had in your life? Will you think about how you can do more of that thing that brings that power into your day-to-day? Really, I want to know.

It’s not selfish. It’s not indulgent. It’s living! It’s resisting! It’s thriving.