I wrote the following for a work blog but it didn’t get used as originally intended. Instead I ended up using it as the basis for a piece I did to open the LGBT History Month event at the Surrey History Centre.
I’m hoping to get hold of the video footage at some point, or even just an audio recording, but there may be some hoops to jump through for that. In the meantime, here’s the original blog. It doesn’t include the joke suggested by boy s about a picture of Queer Joy and how wonderful they are.
As someone with deep clinical depression, it feels a little odd to talk about queer joy. Leaving aside my imposter syndrome, however, that is the point of doing it. Finding and appreciating good things is an important skill. Queer joy is not in and of itself a matter of mental health though.
Queer joy is a positive moment of celebration. It is even more remarkable because they are in an LGBTQ+ context. I experience it when I eat cake at a same-sex wedding. I experience it when I hear that we have hired an amazing new transgender colleague and that they are thriving. I experience it when I contemplate the anniversaries of myself, partners, or friends. At its heart, queer joy is a name for our reaction when we encounter signs of progress.
Queer joy is the experience of being in a diverse and empowered community. I can be myself, or I witness others be themselves without threat of violence or rejection. It comes when people can wear what feels right to them. It comes from encountering – or being – someone LGBTQ+ in a leadership role. It is the joy of seeing people blossom. It is the experience of people who find their voices. It is seeing people work out who they are outside rigid gender roles and norms of behaviour.
The importance of queer joy is that it helps sustain me. Media and personally experienced backlash and hate across our community is exhausting. We get our celebrations in Pride and LGBTQ+ History Months, but queer joy appears in the small moments. It is often unexpected, like sunshine rays through breaks in an overcast sky. In those moments, queer joy is often bittersweet. For all the joy of the moment, we still remember the fight. We remember not everyone is as lucky as we are in that moment.
There is a resilience that comes with queer joy. The joy peaks when someone in the LGBTQ+ community wins an award. The joy shines out when I hear a song celebrating same-sex love. When my found or chosen family supports me, it is an example of how we rise despite setbacks and step forward and up. It might only be a small step, but it is still a step forward.
Queer joy is for everyone. If you want to see equality, diversity, and inclusion in our society, then you can experience it too. The empathy within us manifests as joy at people’s success. We may call it queer joy, but you are all welcome to experience and thrive in it.