As the 2023 Texas Legislative session draws to a close, it leaves behind a record-breaking number of attacks on LGBTQ+ people and anti-trans legislation. With these ceaseless attacks, anti-LGBTQ+ extremists have tried to silence, intimidate, and invalidate us. However, at every step, LGBTQ+ Texans and allies have shown up and shown resistance. During this time, pain and anger are the dominant emotions that fuel us. But it’s important to acknowledge that queer joy is resistance, too.
Queer joy is a moment of pure celebration for what sacrifices were made to arrive where we are and hopes for what is next. Queer joy is being able to be yourself or experience others being themselves without fear of rejection in a diverse and powerful community. Queer joy is different from pride, as it is a deep joyfulness that fills queer lives with an abundance of warmth and purpose. Queer joy can help sustain us against what feels like never-ending hate. Queer joy is the courage, tenacity, and action taken by our fellow LGBTQ+ Texans and allies.
Here are a few moments of queer joy our Equality Texas team experienced during the 2023 Texas Legislative session.
On the capitol steps for All In For Equality Advocacy Day, one Equality Texas team member felt queer joy when Cynthia Lee Fontaine performed drag, and another felt it at The Queer March on the Capitol as the resource fair connected folks to resources and LGBTQ+ affirming organizations.
Others felt queer joy while waiting for their names to be called for testimony against Senate Bill 14 as folks got their nails done, took portraits, watched movies, and sang Karaoke. One Equality Texas team member shared that this was his favorite moment of queer joy because it entertained people and gave them a reason to laugh and be silly together.
A week later, after a long day of work at the capitol, advocates met at a park and passed around a megaphone to share stories of queer joy. One person shared that they experienced queer joy when someone approached them to say that they knew how to drop a card because of them. Another person shared that being able to show up and fight for queer youth the way they needed someone to show up and fight for them when they were a kid gave them queer joy. Others shared that they felt queer joy when surrounded by queer Texans and allies who care about what is happening to our community. Finally, another person shared that they had recently reflected on how they used to go to the capitol in 2011 and 2013 and see the same ten queer people at every hearing, and now realizing that there will never be that few people again and that gave them queer joy.
Another Equality Texas team member shared that a moment of queer joy she experienced was while tabling at a drag/wrestling event and at a roller derby bout. “Both were filled with beautiful queer people working together, in competition and in performance. The whole crowd was thrilled to be in community,” she explained. Another team member shared that she felt queer joy when over 2,000 people showed up to stand against HB1686 and when she stayed up late-night painting the “Let Trans Kids Grow Up” banner. Another moment of queer joy she shared was when she locked arms with her trans siblings at the capitol and chanted in unison for trans rights.
Despite the many challenges of the 2023 Texas Legislative session, LGBTQ+ Texans and allies have demonstrated unwavering resilience. Amidst the pain and anger of the past few months, the power of queer joy has shined through and has propelled us forward. These moments of queer joy serve as reminders of the progress made and the strength of the LGBTQ+ community. Queer joy is a testament to the collective queer Texan spirit that will continue to drive the fight for equality forward, ensuring that a chorus of a resilient community replaces the bygone days of few queer voices.
Written by Anna Ellis, 2023 Communications Intern, Equality Texas