As the anniversary of Stonewall approaches, it’s time to step back and remind ourselves why we have Pride Month in the first place and why it is important we continue to celebrate.
When did Pride Month begin?
Throughout the 1960s, the LGBTQ community faced growing pressures from American society and the federal government to hide their sexualities and/or identities. They were described as sinners, unnatural, and a danger to society. Discrimination laws placed barriers in every aspect of life. The solicitation of same-sex relations was illegal in New York. Gay bars were forced to shut down because the government revoked their liquor licenses. Repeatedly, the country, even the world, threw the community aside– and in response, more and more pro-LGBTQ organizations grew in defense.
And, finally, came the infamous Stonewall raid on June 28, 1969. At a gay club, Stonewall Inn, in Greenwich Village, New York City, police officers stormed in and raided the club. They violently threw patrons and employees out. They arrested many. Consequently, riots followed for days afterward. These riots sparked the modern gay rights movement. Afterwards, LGBTQ political activism grew insurmountably, and popular organizations like the Human Rights Campaign got its start.
This is why June became Pride Month. And this is why we celebrate.
What does Pride Month mean now?
Pride Month does not insinuate that the LGBTQ community is better. It simply promotes the end of discrimination against the community and the stigma against homosexuality in society. June honors what the community has gone through, both as a whole and individually. Countless LGBTQ youth are kicked out of their homes, abused, or bullied because of their sexuality and/or identity. It must come to a stop. This is what Pride Month means.
There are many who argue that a Pride Month shouldn’t exist, or ask why there isn’t a Straight Pride Month. Frankly, they’re simply ignorant. To say CIS (to be the gender you were born), heterosexual individuals don’t face trials or discrimination is absurd– of course they have. However, they have never faced them because they are straight. That is the distinction. A Straight Pride Month is pointless not because they can’t be proud to be straight, but there’s technically nothing to be proud about. Their sexuality was never why they were turned down from a job, harassed, even killed. And it is unfair to promote such a thing when the LGBTQ community has been beaten down for centuries.
Pride in Trump’s America
It’s definitely been hard to adjust from an ally like Obama to someone like Trump. Whether or not you like this change is up to you. When it comes to protecting the LGBTQ community, however, Trump has proven that he could not care less about the injustices the community still suffers in America. In fact, he has continuously accepted this behavior and barely speaks (or in his case, tweets) about any support he may have for the LGBTQ community.
First, Vice President Mike Pence has made it very clear on his support for conversion therapy, claiming it even “saved his marriage.” Common sense indicates that Trump supports Pence in all of his endeavors, considering he made Pence his VP. Conversion therapy is a harmful practice that follows the belief that sexuality is a choice. It encourages patients to become heterosexual. Centuries ago, its practices were much more barbaric and dangerous.
Another popular restriction Trump placed against the LGBTQ community is the trans military ban. It was all so sudden, that Trump informed the defense secretary only a day before its announcement. The trans military ban doesn’t allow transgender individuals to serve, as Trump stated it would be too expensive to pay for their medication and surgery. Obama had previously opened the military to all individuals. It was a big step towards equality in the military, but Trump took that all away in a snap decision that left even his administration confused on how to carry it out.
In addition, Trump approved a “conscious rule” last month that allows hospitals to deny help towards patients if it interferes with their personal beliefs. This means anyone of the LGBTQ community could be denied help if their doctor, nurse, etc. was homophobic or it went against their religion. This is just another commonplace example of Trump allowing discrimination against the community.
Pride, Parades, and Purpose
Social media is, of course, a place of many viewpoints. Some are angry that they have so much Pride content on their timeline, and retaliate. The popular one this time? Straight Pride. Three men in Boston are planning to hold their own Straight Pride to poke fun at “identity politics”. Pride parades are a popular and easy way the LGBTQ community can gather, celebrate, and feel included. For many, it’s the only place they can truly be themselves. Straight Pride takes away the meaning of real pride. One month out of the year, the queer community can feel appreciated and maybe even safe. Don’t take that away from them.
As the anniversary of Stonewall approaches, it’s important to remember how far the community has come. In many places, LGBTQ are welcome. They can hold almost any job, marry whoever they want, and find emotional and medical support. But, there is still a long journey to go. It is important to never stop being proud of who you are. And if you’re an ally, make sure your LGBTQ family members, friends, and coworkers know they can count on you. Support and friendship goes a long way. Love goes a long way.