What is Pride Month? Pride is dedicated to LGBTQ+ people. This month is designated as a time to uplift them, celebrate them, and fight for them and their right to live and be proud of their livelihoods. We celebrate the people who exude bravery in every breath they breathe, that walk the streets as their truest self while under scrutiny and harsh judgement of unwelcome, ignorant stares. We honor and remember the lives of those lost to the hateful violence against queer people, especially queer people of color and transgender women, as well as the individuals that lost their lives to HIV/AIDS due to negligence. During Pride, we hold safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people to exist the way that they are. We also serve as reminders for those that can’t be “out” and proud, whose identity they choose to keep private for the sake of their own safety. Pride is for them as well. And while Pride can be a loud and exuberant party, a colorful march, Pride is first and foremost a protest.
Have you ever wondered why Pride Month is celebrated in the month of June? Let’s look a bit at the history of Pride. Prior to the 1960’s, it was illegal for queer people, especially gay men and “crossdressers” to congregate, which led to a lot of police raids and arrests in spaces like bars and clubs. Even after it became legal for bars to serve their gay patrons, harassment from police continued. One of the most notorious riots was the Stonewall Uprising of June 1969. Led by Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, patrons at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich, New York, struggled against one of the many police raids plaguing the community, resulting in a three-day riot, and what many consider today a milestone for the modern Queer Liberation Movement. Stonewall was far from the first riot to occur in this decade, nor was it quite the beginning of the Gay Rights Movement. However, the Stonewall Riot marked a global social attitude of people’s willingness to come together and organize, exemplifying the growing strength of the movement. The month of June commemorates this shift.
Nowadays, it’s easy for people to water down what Pride means. Organizing a march is not just a party, but a political stance. Pride is inherently an act of defiance against the powers that seek to control and destroy LGBTQ+ communities. It’s important to honor “progress”, but the best mode of honoring those who have fought for the rights of queer people is to continue their fight. Queer people are far from liberated. It’s incredible that same-sex couples can be legally married, but there are still black trans-women being murdered every day. There are still queer people being denied health care, housing, job opportunities.
June 30th is the last day of Pride Month. But pride exists in every other day of the year, in every moment. Pride is living unapologetically when this “lifestyle” makes other people uncomfortable, when it makes them question everything they know. Pride is dressing in a way that makes me love myself, and allows me to express myself. Pride manifests itself in my care for other queer people and providing support for them if they need it. Pride is respecting myself, even if other people decide I do not deserve it. Pride is reminding myself I do not live to receive the validation or approval of other people. Pride is not just for me, a queer person. Pride can be exhibited by allies who need to do the work to help and protect their vulnerable queer community members. It’s not quite enough to wear rainbow garb. Pride is a prolonged celebration, and pride never ceases to be a riot.