Year 5, Piece Eighteen: 37. Purple Orange

Pride, parenthood, and the whole rainbow.

Purple: Awareness, Mindfulness, Consciousness, Wisdom, Beingness, Identity.
Orange: Creativity, Gratitude, Splendor, Surrender, Fire, Passion, Sexuality. 

These colors have so many meanings, yet by the end of the week the relevant ones always crystallize. For the many Purples that have popped up lately, I’ve been thinking about Identity. Purple Orange this week is Creativity within Identity and Sexuality within Identity. 

Appropriately, this week we began June and Pride Month. Purple is Red + Blue and Orange is Red + Yellow, so all of the primary colors are present in this pair, the whole rainbow. 

Which brings up a lingering question about this project: how does Rainbow Squared relate to the rainbow as a symbol of LGBTQ pride? Rainbow Squared is in some ways about all rainbows, exploring how colors relate to each other and express themselves in the world. The pride flag is definitely included in that. But perhaps what really makes these rainbows queer is that I am a queer person.  

I also present and live as a mostly cisgendered woman in a committed heterosexual relationship. From the outside, I am a mother and a wife (even if I don’t use that word to describe myself). With these roles come so much privilege, recognition, and support. I am daily validated for maintaining the stable family unit so central to the functioning of the status quo. If I enjoy these benefits, I cannot and do not claim to be marginalized. And yet.

These roles are a large part of who I am but they are not the entirety, are never the entirety for anyone. In them I do not feel whole because I do not need to feel whole: I have so many other parts. The rainbow celebrates those parts. Those parts of myself that love across the gender spectrum. The rainbow even celebrates those wild parts that love not just anyone but everyone, and not just everyone but everything. And the rainbow doesn’t just celebrate the parts, it celebrates the whole. This rainbow that I romance weekly is a queer lens on the world, bounded in many ways by my participation in mainstream familial institutions but also simultaneously unbounding it, saying there are more ways to be, so many more ways to see. But first you have to see them, you have to bless them, you have to create them. 

Today I have officially been a parent for five years. I expected it to transform me utterly, and in many ways it has. More surprising and so affirming to me though is the ways that it hasn’t. I was so terrified when I found out I was pregnant the first time. For months I privately mourned the loss of myself, as if I would come out the other side a different person, interested in totally different things, valuing totally different things. Looking back, maybe that fear wasn’t about me somehow transforming myself through pregnancy but about mainstream society overtaking me in my new role, swallowing me whole, queerness and all. 

Well, one dominant lesson from parenthood thus far and that I learned pretty quickly was that I am actually the same fucking person. Who I was before and who I am today are points on the same continuum, the same spectrum. The same rainbow. And it is perhaps in no small part thanks to this rainbow that I have preoccupied myself with ever since becoming a parent. Devotion to my creative practice and spending so much time loving what I love has been instrumental to my sense of self, my sanity. 

My relationship to Pride Month has certainly changed in these early days of parenthood. Even if they are not the whole of who I am, my roles as mother and partner are still so descriptive of how I spend my time. This week in the midst of moving house I somehow also managed to spend hours on the internet looking at future trash to purchase for party favors, so I guess I have changed a little. These roles also make it harder to stay in touch with those queer parts of myself, to claim that that “B” is for me and even that “Q.” I am hoping this Pride Month to bring those parts out a little more. This year and maybe even the next few I may sit on the sidelines a little bit, figuring out the right balance of visibility and advocacy, of stepping back and showing up. Today I celebrate living in my fullness. And I celebrate you in yours.