Trans of Thought: GayDayS and Inclusivity

By : Maia Monet
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I hope all of you have had a chance to recover from the marches and celebrations that marked Pride month. My feet and liver barely survived intact and may yet give out because, for those of us in Central Florida, the party isn’t quite over yet. Even as corporate-backed, rainbow merchandise-palooza 2019 has faded into the rearview mirror of June, we now have upon us the queer calendar outlier that is GayDayS after its move to mid-August.

Full disclosure: as a transgender woman and lesbian, I have never considered going to GayDayS because it has the reputation of being heavily gay male focused. In most other years, during the first weekend in June, I can be found around the pool at Girls in Wonderland. However, since there are no competing LGBTQ+ events on the social calendar, I have found myself wondering if I should attend.

In order to determine how comfortable I might be, I did what most transgender people do when faced with a similar dilemma. I scoured the website for examples of their inclusivity. This might seem unnecessary, but the trans community has learned through awkward experience to look for more than just a statement. We know how it feels to come to an LGBTQ+ event only to be treated like the party guest that was not expected to show. What I found on GayDayS.com was a little discouraging.

I was struck by how old-fashioned the language appeared to be. The overwhelming preponderance referred almost exclusively to gay men and lesbian women and the fun to be had for each. A deeper dive found the familiar LGBTQ acronym with an explanation of each letter and the boast that GayDayS was the “#1 premier inclusive vacation for the entire community,” but little to back that up for those of us who fall under the BTQ+. A failing that was underscored by the omission of the presence of transgender people at Stonewall as outlined by the included handy synopsis of the riots. In its place was the dreaded descriptor of “men dressed as women.” To suggest that includes transgender pioneers who were present at Stonewall like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera would be an insult to their memory.

I’m not saying that GayDayS does not support transgender people. Indeed, Two Spirit Health is sponsoring a transgender lounge at the event hotel during the weekend. That being said, there are no references to gender non-binary and non-conforming people at all. Frankly, the website reads like sections were written long ago and years apart and simply haven’t all been updated to reflect how we understand the community to exist today. I just think they can do better because other events are already doing it. I had the good fortune this year to have attended St Pete Pride, the largest in Florida. For the third year in a row, it featured a TransPride March and I made a point of participating.

I had first heard about the trans march via a marketing email, and followed up on the St Pete Pride website, where I found details and pictures featured prominently on their front page. The message was quite clear. I would be among my community and allies with a concrete example of what that would look like. I wasn’t disappointed as we were placed front and center to lead the overall Pride Parade. We were celebrated and showered with love as we proudly waved our blue, pink and white Trans Pride flags while winding our way down Bayshore Drive. I didn’t think it could get better than that, but then I went to NYC Pride the next weekend.

This was my first NYC Pride, and it was made extra special because, as the site of Stonewall, NYC was also playing host to WorldPride. Despite it being my hometown, I felt like the transgender country bumpkin visiting the big city. What I didn’t know was that I would find radical inclusivity. During the Stonewall 50 rally, speaker after speaker mentioned how critical it was to support the transgender community. Monica Helms, the creator of the Trans Pride flag, was invited on stage.

The trend continued the next day at the Dyke March. Descriptions of the event were very careful to state that any gender identity was welcome as long as the person identified as a dyke, so I had high hopes. Turns out they were well founded as I saw numerous trans supportive signs, many of which appeared to be held by cisgender allies. I left NYC feeling, not just included in their Pride, but integrated into the very fabric of it.

Which brings us back to GayDayS. I’m sure that as a transgender person, I would be welcome to attend by the event organizers. I just don’t know if I would be comfortable. It’s one thing to make a brief and hard-to-find inclusivity statement, but another thing entirely to make it part of the culture of the event. Maybe I’ll show up and walk around in my “Trans AF” T-shirt, as I did at St Pete Pride and NYC Pride, to see for myself. If anything, it will make for a great story for a YouTube video. Happy GayDayS and see you around the pool!

Melody Maia Monet has her own YouTube channel where she answers lesbian and transgender life questions you are afraid to ask. You can find it at YouTube.com/MelodyMaia.

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