Why Celebrating Pride Month Is So Important Amidst Political Turmoil

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London, England - July 02: A general view of the crowds at Pride in London 2022.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

June is Pride Month for LGBTQIA+ communities. This is a time to honor and acknowledge our vibrant culture and history, but how do we do that amidst the tumultuous political and social landscape we’re currently in? The global LGBTQIA+ community is grappling with challenges that overshadow moments of joy and solidarity.

However, these times remind me of what Pride was born out of. Pride began following the uprising and protests in 1969 over police brutality against LGBTQIA+ people (particularly trans women of color) at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. Groups of queer and trans people stood up against the over-policing and harassment that LGBTQIA+ folx were experiencing at Stonewall to create a safe space for all. On June 28, 1970, thousands of people paraded from Stonewall Inn to Central Park in recognition of the Stonewall Uprising the previous year, starting the first Pride parade

The history of Pride emphasizes that moments of protest aren’t just about immediate resistance but are opportunities to create long-term change. Protests spotlight injustices and mobilize communities to demand better. They raise awareness, shift public perception, and often lead to policy changes. What’s important to take note of during these times is the ways in which our various identities impact how we choose to show up and recognize Pride this month. More specifically, which identities do we hold in addition to our queerness that affords us more or less privilege to celebrate? 

Speaking from my perspective as an Afro-Latina, queer, cis-gender woman, I’m struggling to find joy this June with everything going on politically. Did I fail to mention that it’s also an election year? My fear of gathering in large queer spaces is pervasive after domestic terrorist acts such as the shooting at Pulse Nightclub in 2016. The FBI and Homeland Security have already issued a warning about potential violent acts to come this June. Plus, COVID-19 is still rearing its effects across the country and the globe. 

So, what will Pride look like for me this year? Despite holding several historically minoritized identities, I am privileged in that, as a cisgender woman, I don’t have to fear for my life in the same way that Black and trans people of color do. As a temporarily able-bodied person, I can walk along the parade route and through the festival grounds without considering mobility and access issues. And as a feminine presenting queer person, I still fit in society’s normalized view of how a woman should present. Keeping these privileges at the forefront of my mind is crucial as I celebrate because while Pride celebrates everyone, not everyone can celebrate Pride. I’m reminded of Audre Lorde’s writing for the bulletin on “Homophobia and Education” in 1983. In it, Lorde writes: 

“I cannot afford the luxury of fighting one form of oppression only.

I cannot afford to believe that freedom from intolerance is the right of only one particular group.

And I cannot afford to choose between the fronts upon which I must battle these forces of discrimination wherever they appear to destroy me.

And when they appear to destroy me, it will not be long before they appear to destroy you.”

Audre Lorde