June 25, 2021

Pride! An Interview with Kelly Novahom

June is coming to a close, but #Pride is more than just a month long celebration. Learn about Kelly Novahom (she/her), one of volunteer conveners of the Queer/Trans Subcommittee of our Art and Media Project and what it means to show up for our gender diverse community.

APANO: Any Pride-specific outings or activities that you missed during the pandemic?

KN: The NW Pride Parade and all of the fun dance events at the local bars in downtown Portland. It is so amazing to see so many people, young and old, gather and celebrate together.

APANO: What made you get the vaccine?

KN: I did have some reservations about the side effects of vaccination, but the bigger picture is that we are going to move forward a lot quicker and make our communities safer places if we do our part and get vaccinated.

APANO: When you are fully vaccinated, what are you excited to do?

KN: I can’t wait to be with my family again and see my grandmother for the first time in two years. I can’t wait to hug and kiss my friends and celebrate my younger cousins who are just graduating from college.

APANO: How are you celebrating Pride Month? How are you celebrating/commemorating in the pandemic?

KN: I am looking forward to the recording of the NW Pride Parade!

APANO: What does Pride Month mean to you as an API?

KN: It means celebrating the diversity of our community and that LGBTQ+ folks have always existed in our community. It means consistently centering our Queer and Trans API folks in every API space and every LGBTQ+ space and creating new spaces for us to embrace the multiplicity and abundance of our identities.

APANO: What do you think gets left out in Pride? What would it look like to change that?

KN: I think we don’t include youth as much as we should and that trans-spectrum folks generally are not as represented as they should be in Pride spaces. I think we need to do more about spreading awareness about gender diversity. We need to have more conversations about the differences in gender identity and expression and sexual orientation especially in how gender identity develops in children at much younger ages than sexuality and gender identity and gender expression are not mutually exclusive.

Gender identity is imposed on us the moment we are born. We are labelled either “boy” or “girl”. By the time children are 3 or 4 years old, they have a sense of their gender and now that we know more about gender diversity, we can identify and understand more of what our children are experiencing at this age. Gender identity is all about who you are on the inside and it may be hard to articulate when we don’t have representation in literature and media or within our institutions and laws (but this is changing rapidly and varies across the US!). At younger ages, individuals are identifying outside of the binary. They might identify as non-binary, agender, gender fluid, or trans female or trans male, for example. Children and youth might express their gender in many ways as well through mannerisms, clothing, etc. and may not conform to gender norms, but expression does not dictate identity (e.g. drag performance, vogue, butch/femme subcultures). Sexual orientation can be concurrently happening during puberty or earlier, but generally not as early as gender identity development.

I think the more we have conversations around gender diversity especially in our BIPOC communities, we can start to learn more about how we can uplift and support our children and youth within our transgender and gender diverse communities.

Thanks Kelly! To get resources about gender diversity and LGBTQ justice, learn about the TransActive Gender Project.

Want to learn + join the Queer/Trans Subcommittee of our Arts and Media Project? Email our Cultural Coordinator Roshani at roshani@apano.org to get involved!

Booking your vaccination appointment? Head to vaccines.gov

Find BIPOC and community-specific clinics at apano.org/vaccine

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