June is Pride month and whether that pleases you or not, there’s a good chance that somewhere near you there’s going to be a parade, march, or celebration and it’s going to be loud and colorful! I figure that you can either enjoy the occasion or you can lock yourself in your house and wait for it all to end. I mean, what’s a month give or take? A lot of people will wonder why it’s necessary in the age of ever-growing marriage equality and advances in LGBTQ+ rights to take to the streets and…dance!? Well, there are manifold reasons why the community needs such a month and are bonded and strengthened by the events surrounding what builds up to a memorializing of the Stonewall riots somewhere toward the end of the month. If you’re not familiar with the events at the Stonewall Inn in New York City in 1969, you might want to read up on it as since June 24th of last year, it comprises part of the Stonewall National Monument and is therefore solidly integrated into U.S. American history. Since this is not a history blog, I won’t go into too much detail, but basically, the riots mark the beginning of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement in the USA, a movement that is still growing, changing, and assuming its proper place within both the American and global human rights movement.
But why call it “Pride Month“? Well, you may notice that those people on the floats, rocking out to pop and techno music, at least for that day, are genuinely expressing not only how proud they are to be themselves, but how proud everyone is of how far the community has come in a relatively short time. There have certainly been struggles and there continue to be areas in which the community needs to do and be more; the AIDS epidemic is not over, LGBTQ+ youth homelessness is hugely disproportionate when projected against society as a whole, victimization and abuse continue (especially, but not only, in rural areas where young queer people have limited access to support systems and resources), and rights such as housing and job security are still not fully cinched, but like everything, it’s a slow and painful process. Still, it’s important for any group of marginalized or underrepresented people to celebrate their accomplishments from time to time. Pride is an annual chance to remember, to honor, and to have a little fun!
As a noun, pride describes a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of one’s close associates, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired. Alternatively, it also means consciousness of one’s own dignity. It is the second definition that I prefer to reference when I speak of pride — an abiding awareness of an innate dignity, the dignity that all survivors acquire simply by virtue of having survived when so many did not. A dignity that is mixed with fear and guilt, and also profound respect and a sense of purpose. To be proud is to be among the living, the still fighting; and in a world that so often devalues and dismisses queer bodies and minds, to have pride is an act of profound resistance.
Wouldn’t it be great if everyone, in every community and of every possible intersectional identity, took a month out of every year to get with the people they love and celebrate their survival, their common push toward a more inclusive and less violent future, and their particular hue on the flag of humanity?! Wouldn’t that just be amazing!? Try it! Otherwise, there is a very real chance that you may never know just how good it is to dance in the streets surrounded by other humans so conscious of their own dignity that the pounding music, the flamboyant costumes (or lack thereof), the outrageous floats, the cheering crowds, the sometimes jeering crowds, the fear of judgement and shame, and the dark rains of yesterday all fade into a perfectly sunny sky and only a rainbow remains.