Celebrating Pride in 2020
Celebrating Pride in 2020
June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, plus (LGBTQ+) Pride month, frequently called gay pride or simply, pride. It is a month usually marked by parades, colorful corporate campaigns, parties, ceremonies, and more to celebrate LGBTQ+ people. Pride month honors equality, the accomplishments resulting from the gay rights movement, the growing visibility of this community, and the dignity of its members to live out and proud.
As a (now) out and proud member, I am often reminded of my journey to get to this point of self-affirmation to live life as my true self. Coming to the realization that you are gay and being comfortable with that aspect of yourself, is not something that happens overnight. Rather, it is a slow and, at times, painful growth process. Family and friends encouraged me to find myself and own who I am. They championed me along the way as I made numerous leaps of faith, whether that was coming out to my parents, holding hands with my partner on the sidewalk, or sharing the fact that I’m out and proud within the workplace. A far cry from the kid in middle school who did not understand why he didn’t have crushes on girls like many of his other male classmates.
I would be remiss not to recognize the roles of the many LGBTQ+ pioneers before me who paved the way for the rights our community has today. Tremendous strides were made in the fight for equality over the last 100 years through creation of gay rights groups and organizations, advocacy from numerous societies, publication of newspapers and newsletters, marches, and protests. This all culminated in the historic civil rights decision in June 2015 when the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
One of the most significant moments in the gay rights movement were the Stonewall Riots in June 1969 in New York City. Leading up to this event, many known gay bars were targeted and often raided by police. Engaging in gay conduct (dancing, kissing, or holding hands with someone of the same sex) was illegal and police would harass known bars that allowed it. Patrons and employees were often arrested and assaulted during such raids. Police raided the Stonewall Inn, a well-known gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village, on June 28, 1969. Shortly after, a riot broke out between patrons, the police, and local community members. Fed up, members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies fought back. Marsha P. Johnson, a transgender woman of color, is often credited with throwing the first brick that launched the ensuing events. The initial riot on June 28 led to six days of protests in front of the Stonewall Inn and the surrounding areas. Stonewall is considered a turning point and catalyst in the gay rights movement.
Remembering Stonewall is more important now than ever. Not only because the United States selected June as Pride month to commemorate Stonewall, but because it represents positive change that can be achieved when populations of all diversities come together and stand up for their human rights. Fifty years after Stonewall, we now see a similar movement of people speaking up and standing together. Our country has witnessed wide-spread protests over the last few weeks in response to the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and the ongoing issues of systemic racism. The gay rights and LGBTQ+ movements succeeded largely due to support from a broad coalition of allies and through protesting. As our nation grapples with grief and outrage, we must band together to spur change and push for equality for the Black community, all people of color, and beyond. Pride will look different this year with COVID-19 still impacting our ability to travel and congregate. The LGBTQ+ community will still celebrate what we achieved and must remember the history of how we got to where we are today and how we can use those lessons learned to help other marginalized groups. #BeProud