It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And no, I’m not talking about Christmas. I’m talking about Pride Month. Internationally recognized as LGBTQ pride month, this June, like every June for the past 48 years, has been filled with rainbows, wonderfully obscure signs and activities that celebrate and fight for LGBTQ rights.
With only one week left, it’s time to pull out your most colorful clothes, dust off your rainbow flags and grab your most wacky accessories because this year, more than ever, the LGBTQ community needs support. Just because the parades are wrapping up for the year does not mean that the fight for love and full, equal rights is coming to an end.
In fact, it’s the complete opposite. This year, Pride is more important than ever and here are some of the reasons why:
1. This is the first year in over a decade that there has been no presidential proclamation of Pride Month.
“When all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.” -Barack Obama
This past year, we said goodbye to the most LGBTQ-friendly president ever and said hello to one who has surrounded himself with a Cabinet whose past records on LGBTQ rights are, for lack of a better word, pretty abysmal.
Because of the new political climate, Pride needs more support than ever. When Trump was elected, I cannot even begin to fathom what it felt like for marginalized groups. How is it that an overwhelming population of America, what is supposed to be the land of freedom and the most accepting and tolerant nation whose trademark is literally to be a melting pot, would vote for someone who is openly okay continuing to further marginalize and alienate minorities?
Pride matters because it’s not always obvious that our world is built around straight privilege. The election results were a huge wake-up call. It showed where our nation really stands and the results were incredibly disheartening.
Pride has the power to demonstrate what the nation feels despite what the election revealed. Simply put, pride is empowering.
2. Despite consistent progress, this year we have already experienced some setbacks.
“Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?” -Author Ernest J. Gaines
The LGBTQ community has always had to watch its back, but the progress that was not only achieved by but celebrated by the last administration is now in danger of slipping away.
Yes, Trump can’t single handily reverse marriage equality and other civil rights, but will he appoint conservative judges to the US Supreme court who can?
Will he repeal the Affordable Care Act, which protects transgender people from discrimination in accessing health care?
Sure, Trump is one of the most “pro-LGBTQ” Republican presidents ever, but his cabinet is not. He’s only been in office for a few months and there have already been a couple of setbacks.
The Trump administration rolled back protections for transgender students in February denying transgender students the right to use public school restrooms that match their gender identity.
Since his term, cities and states around the country have enacted new anti-LGBTQ legislation which denies same-sex couples adoption rights.
Trump removed LGBTQ questions off the 2020 census, making the community feel more invisible than they already do.
The potential unraveling of decades of political and social progress has changed the context of these displays of pride and partly returned them to their roots of old-fashioned protest marches.
3. Pride commemorates our history, which can be used as inspiration.
“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” -Harvey Fierstein
Pride celebrates our history and how much progress the LGBTQ community has achieved.
In 1969, it was illegal for LGBTQ people to congregate at a bar or for bars to serve LGBTQ people.
The Mafia-owned Stonewall Inn, located in New York’s Greenwich Village, was one of the only “safe” places for LGBTQ people to get together. It wasn’t really that safe, though. Police frequently raided the bar and issued fines or arrested the people in the bar.
On June 28, 1969, a black trans woman, Marsha Johnson threw a shot glass at police officers launching years of rioting and protests. That same year the first parade was planned around the site of the riots. Since the Christopher Street Liberation Day March, the LGBTQ civil rights movement has made great strides but our nation is far from true equality. When it comes to basic civil rights, LGBTQ people are still second-class citizens in the eyes of the law and many Americans are still against same-sex PDA, making it unsafe for an LGBTQ person to publicly express their love.
Pride events are a safe place for LGBTQ people to expression their sexuality without worrying and appropriately connects these public signs of affection to the historic events that allowed it to happen. In other words, pride is the time to remember our past while recognizing our long road ahead and use the journey as motivation to keep fight.