The mainstream fight for gay rights—for inclusion, for marriage equality—has been waged over fraught territory. Its victories—a changed and changing culture, legal and political leaps unimaginable half a century ago—are nothing short of monumental. But rainbow flags are as double-edged as they are fabulous. Visibility often means complicity; normalization can mean collective amnesia. At the Stonewall Inn in 1969, diverse queer folks rioted and danced, birthing the Gay Liberation Front and the Pride marches of today—many of which have become corporatized. The June issue of Harper’s Magazine featured “Stonewall at Fifty,” a forum of eight writers and artists across the L.G.B.T.Q.+ spectrum who offered personal and political reflections about a place that has become more symbol than structure.
In this week’s episode, three of the forum’s contributors unpack Pride with web editor Violet Lucca. Novelist-essayist and Whiting Award–winner Alexander Chee insists on conceiving of the queer community not as a monolith but as an amalgam of queer communities: plural, overlapping, in challenging but transformative conversation. T Cooper, novelist and director of the award-winning 2018 documentary Man Made, charts empowerment for people of difference, which can move from the streets to the screen to the classroom, an activism as polyphonic as the identities it emboldens. And T Kira Madden, author of the memoir Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls, encourages us to be buoyed, rather than dismayed, by the contradictions that the next fifty years of Pride and Stonewall will carry in tow.