Pride month is a time for queer celebration and visibility. Though it may have become synonymous with parades and festivals, we must not forget the origin of Pride: resistance. Pride is, at its core, an opportunity to remember the LGBTQ+ pioneers who came before us, and to continue their work fighting all forms of oppression.
Pride was born out of a need to resist the oppression that LGBTQ+ people faced. It was common for the New York Police Department (NYPD) in the 1960s to raid LGBTQ+ bars and clubs under the guise of checking for licensing violations and what was believed to be “lewd” offences, which included same sex dancing. What actually happened, though, on the majority of occasions was that the police would subject transgender women to embarrassing and invasive gender inspections before they were unfairly arrested, along with other LGBTQ+ people. On June 28th 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular New York LGBTQ+ bar . The assault, detention and unfair arrests of club-goers by police and undercover officers caused a scene to erupt, causing harm to many people and mass destruction to the Stonewall Inn. These confrontations continued for a number of nights with less explosive demonstrations. A year after that raid, the first Pride March was held.
We cannot and should not forget that Pride was birthed out of a riot that happened on the heels of years of inequality and injustice. And as Pride month begins, we cannot ignore what is currently happening in the US. Just as African-Americans and their allies are protesting and making noise as a form of resistance and a call for change to years of racial oppression, so too must we encourage our LGBTQ+ allies to stand with and for us. These issues are universal and are everyone’s problem, regardless of whether we are directly or indirectly impacted.
Pride 2020 looks a bit different. With the COVID-19 Coronavirus immobilising us across the globe under stay at home orders, we are now forced to unearth and confront biases to our existence that we have either neglected or taken for granted. With the COVID-19 Coronavirus challenging us in many unique ways, social gatherings and parades are now replaced by virtual gatherings and online activism efforts. We must use these resources in this time to continue fighting against all forms of discrimination. This year’s Pride must confront the collective struggle of all oppressed minorities — based on sexual orientation, gender identity, race and socioeconomic background.
Sequestered in our homes, the six (6) colours of the rainbow flag mean so much more to us now than ever before. The red represents the lives of the pioneers that have been lost in the fight for equality but also the lives that we are able to lead today because of these fallen heroes. The orange represents the healing that has already taken place and will continue to take place during and after this pandemic. The yellow symbolises a brighter sun, knowing that we can all still gather, albeit virtually, to celebrate and commemorate this special moment in our lives wherever we may physically be. The green symbolises nature and the environment that has been flourishing and recovering while we remain at home. The blue represents our continued gathering, bringing harmony with every identity under the LGBTQ+ umbrella. And the purple represents the spirit that we have, a spirt that has encouraged us to continue to celebrate in this time, even under these new and strange circumstances. Together, we acknowledge the power that we have to continue celebrating one another.
Like the Coronavirus, homophobia – in itself – IS a virus. So too is biphobia & bi-erasure, transphobia, intersexphobia, sexism and any other act that discriminates against LGBTQ+ people. It leaves an indelible stain on our existence and only causes harm; it does absolutely NO good.
We remain aware that though we may call for celebrations of our existence, there are those who may be isolated with family members who may display signs of intolerance and aggression towards LGBTQ+ people. We will always encourage you to seek help if you need it. We take this opportunity to remind you that you are so incredibly amazing and that your life has meaning. You are braver, fiercer and stronger than your struggles. You are valid, wanted and loved.
Our community must use this time at home to reflect and to come together to fight intolerance, violence and discrimination. It is imperative now, more than ever, that we remember our history, our continued struggles and that we mobilise to resist discrimination whenever and wherever we see it, in any form.
We are ALL allies in the fight for equality. As we work to continue building #StrongerFamilies, #ConvertHurt and create #SafeSpaces, let us join together, wherever we may be, to continue celebrating our collective existence, voice our struggles and work to create better and more sustainable futures.
From all of us to all of you, Happy Pride Month, Silver Linings! ❤️?️?