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This Pride Month, I’m tired of just surviving

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH CONVERSE

PHOTOGRAPHY BY ISABELLA CONNELLEY
STYLING BY CARLOS MANGUBAT
MODEL WEARS STYLIST’S OWN SOCKS, CONVERSE CHUCK TAYLOR ALL STAR PRIDE LOW TOP

WORDS BY RIMU BHOOI

“I’m finding it really difficult to summon up more outrage at yet another ‘unprecedented’ thing. It feels like everything has precedent, yet everything is new and overwhelming.”

Content warning: Discussion of transphobia, homophobia, ableism, the US abortion ban and anti-semitism. 

This Pride Month, in partnership with ConverseFashion Journal is welcoming a queer guest editor from the Converse All Star community to guide our storytelling in support of queer voices. Rimu Bhooi is a queer, non-binary, disabled Indian of Punjabi Sikh descent, working as a writer, board member, creative, and an activist for human rights and the most marginalised communities. This article was written and edited by Rimu in consultation with the Fashion Journal team.

At the moment, it feels hard to summon up enough courage to celebrate. I’ve been bed-ridden most of Pride month, as a post-operation flare-up has knocked me off my feet. The last 27 days have been exhausting. I spent much of it recovering from the operation, the flare-up that followed, and an extended stay in hospital.

I’ve also spent Pride as the guest editor for Fashion Journal. I’ve explored how being queer* and non-binary in the medical system means constantly coming out. Reflecting on my experience in high school as a closeted queer, I explained why cis-het events like school formals hurt rainbow kids.


Interested to hear how others navigate the world? Head to our Life section.


As an activist, I felt it was important to share that if we want to celebrate Pride, we need to call out racism. Most recently, I contemplated how I’m finally okay with my gender changing. Telling the stories that are important to me has been my version of Pride. I’ve written and edited these articles horizontally, in bed, covered in hot water bottles, bundled in blankets and in a fair amount of chronic pain that my medications can’t touch. 

While working like this has been excellently accessible, I’ve still spent most of Pride in bed. I’ve spent much of my time online, horrified at the news pouring through with each refresh of my feed. Abortion rights have also just been destroyed in the US.

A rainbow community in Oslo, Norway was targeted in a weekend mass shooting. Japan upheld a ban on same-gender marriage. The US banned trans women from swimming competitively while trans men are fully eligible. The US also filed seven anti-transgender pieces of legislation just this month.

White supremacist groups have been targeting us all Pride long, through violent attacks online and in-person demonstrations. Closer to home, in New Zealand, New Plymouth’s drag queen community was targeted and threatened. Greymouth’s queer church was vandalised with homophobic and antisemitic graffiti, as was a pride display in Christchurch. An arson attack on Rainbow Youth’s drop-in centre in Tauranga shook our rainbow communities.

David Farrier’s WebWorm newsletter keeps me informed of many of these instances. He’s a bisexual Pākehā man and journalist and filmmaker who extensively covers stories like these. Most recently, he’s followed the events around the anti-gay and anti-trans policies at a Christian New Zealand school called Bethlehem College.

Of course, there is counter-action. We’ve seen an outpouring of donations for the drop-in centre. I’ve read many thoughtful and hope-filled think-pieces about how we keep on in times like these. People have protested Bethlehem College

Oslo’s rainbow community marched despite fears of further violence. Queer communities the world over are standing up to the violence and hatred with more bravery than I feel I can summon up right now.

But I’m afraid and I’m tired. From COVID restrictions easing while cases and deaths skyrocket around me, to feeling so sick and in pain from my gynaecological issues that I’m bed-ridden, and now the devastating news out of the US, I’m finding it really difficult to mark the occasion that Pride is and should be. 

And I’m finding it really difficult to summon up more outrage at yet another ‘unprecedented’ thing. It feels like everything has precedent, yet everything is new and overwhelming. On days like today, I reflect on what I recently learned in therapy – there is something called the window of tolerance.

When we are affected by something significant and life-changing, such as an incurable gynaecological condition, our ability to tolerate small and/or big things may become limited. Of course, these can be minor annoyances like burning toast, stubbing my toe, or a nasty comment from a bigot on my latest article. Still, they can send me flying into bouts of anger and sadness.

We want to expand our window, that is, our ability to cope with the minor things. This is the goal, but I can attest to it feeling bloody impossible to do. I’m getting there slowly, but I’m constantly reminded that progress isn’t linear. 

No matter how much I work on coping techniques, mindfulness and managing the small things, it all seems to unravel when I refresh my feed. Today’s new and unprecedented atrocities quite quickly undo all the work put in, as do the next days and the next.

I still do this work because I need to not be paralysed by fear. It is valid and understandable, as significant events can shake anyone, but I’m a person of action. So reaching out to my friends who’d be affected by the news out of the US or continuing my advocacy as a board member of an endometriosis organisation means a lot to me. I don’t want to lose what gives my life meaning. 

I know that many of us feel the same way; tired of fighting to survive in the face of seemingly never-ending fear-inducing bullshit. We all have things going on in our personal lives. A quarter of us in New Zealand are disabled, and the pandemic has made things even more inaccessible. In addition, many more of us are expected to be disabled by long COVID and post-viral complications.

I have thus far avoided COVID, which makes me very privileged in this day and age. I’ve had timely access to the vaccine and booster, and I’ve been able to be tested for COVID whenever I’ve had the need. Though, partly, I believe my fear of it from the beginning has kept me COVID free. I cannot imagine being more fatigued by long COVID, as I already have chronic fatigue.

Of course, being bed-ridden keeps my interpersonal contact at an all-time low. I haven’t been able to attend things like my friend’s 21st, even if I felt it was COVID-safe enough. Spending a lot of time hospitalised or bed-ridden, as has been my way of life in recent years, has meant I’ve stayed far away from the public in most instances.

I’m not making my usual pilgrimage home this year either. When I was in high school, I’d fly home to rural India for the Christmas break at least once every two years. Regrettably, COVID means it has been three years since I’ve seen my father. During this time, I grew and changed so much. 

Leaping into adulthood with both eyes open and my heart on my sleeve has been an incredible experience. But, it’s probably why I’ve felt my life has reached a standstill this year. I don’t want a standstill; I want to celebrate Pride, my birthday, and the important events in my loved ones’ lives. I want to stop surviving and start thriving. Most of all, I want this for all of us. 

Our stories are what make me hopeful. Knowing some people will understand how I’m feeling keeps me going, and I don’t want to stop writing and sharing my experiences. My hope is that we never stop sharing our stories. They are what make us human and bind us together in the face of whatever ‘unprecedented’ future lies ahead of us. 

*This writer uses rainbow and queer interchangeably as umbrella terms that embrace any person whose sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics differs from the majority binary (female/male) norms. This includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, takatāpui, intersex, LGBTQIA+ and other culturally specific terms such as sistergirl, brotherboy and fa’afafine. They acknowledge that these terms might not work for everyone.

FJ readers can explore dozens of stories from the Converse queer community online at the Converse.Gallery and shop the brand’s Pride capsule collection here


Styling credits

LOOK ONE
ANNABEL WEARS GORMAN TOP, SZADE SUNGLASSES, MODEL’S OWN TROUSERS, SHEN WEARS CONVERSE ONE STAR PRIDEVALENTINO TROUSERS, MODEL’S OWN TOP
LOOK TWO (L – R)
OISIN WEARS ERIK YVON BLAZER AND TROUSERS, ED WEARS ERIK YVON COAT, THERESA WEARS STYLIST’S OWN SET
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