It’s June, which means that LGBT Pride Month is in full swing. Pride parades, marches, and rallies are being organized all over the country (and the world), offering an opportunity for members and allies of the queer community to come together and celebrate our identities, raise our voices in unity, and resist the current political regime. In the Trump era, Pride Month is more important than ever.
Recognizing June as a month to honor the LGBT community and commemorate the Stonewall riots first began in 2000 when former president Bill Clinton declared “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.” It was another nine years before President Barack Obama addressed the lack of inclusivity of (some of) the remainder of the queer community and renamed the month “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.” In 2011, when Obama acknowledged Pride Month, he said, “I call upon all Americans to observe this month by fighting prejudice and discrimination in their own lives and everywhere it exists.” And, in June of 2016, Pride Month had a big reason to celebrate with the legalization of same sex marriage.
Times have changed — drastically — since Trump has taken office. Since his inauguration, Trump and his deplorable counterparts have already inflicted a significant amount of damage — from erasing the LGBT+ page on the White House website to instituting a religious liberty executive order that would perpetuate homophobia in favor of religious beliefs. Additionally, according to the Human Rights Campaign, there are over 100 anti-LGBT bills that were introduced just this year, which include protecting those who would discriminate against queer individuals and making it illegal to change one’s gender on their birth certificate. Legalizing same-sex marriage was not the finish line, and we’ve still got a long way to go.
Now, more than ever, we need community. The LGBT community has been rife with racism and transphobia, to the point that Philadelphia has modified the iconic rainbow flag to include a black and brown stripe in honor of queer people of color. This is only one small step in acknowledging ways that the community can overcome its tumultuous history, but there’s room for growth. We need to protect our trans family. We need to protect queers of color. We need to protect those who fall outside the gender binary and create safe spaces that promote inclusivity. Pride Month is about so much more than just celebrating, and it’s hugely important that we reflect on our past to learn how to create a more welcoming future.
In a political climate that seeks to invalidate the lives of the queer community and make us invisible, it’s more important than ever that we show up, vocalize our pride, and band together in resistance. But Pride is not just about fighting back against a conservative political agenda — it’s also about fighting for each other. For those of us who have come out, we can help to make a safer, stronger community for those who remain closeted out of fear or safety. We also need to recognize that the spectrum of genders and sexualities is so much more broad than it ever has been, and we need to welcome everyone. One of my dearest friends identifies as gray-asexual, and she intends to show up to NYC Pride in her best Ace gear. I couldn’t be more proud — the queer community has come far enough that she feels accepted and comfortable to show her true self to thousands of others, and in doing so she may help make it easier for another individual to come out as asexual. By being out and being proud, we’re opening doors for others to do the same.
I’ve been to one pride parade already this year, and I have plans to go to three more. I march because I am proud of who I am, and I want to model that pride for others. I want to show that despite the hate crimes and the conservative government that I will not be silenced or afraid. Coming out as a queer woman has been one of the most important things I’ve ever done, and I channel that pride every single day to better the community to which I belong. I bring that pride to work, to my family, to my friends, to those who disapprove, and to those who hate.
After I celebrate who I am at some of the biggest queer parties in the world, I will keep on fighting to protect my community and my marriage and my rights. We’re all in this fight against discrimination and inequality. And we are, after all, stronger together.