Pride was a riot and a protest. Pride was started by transgender women of colour who said, ‘Enough is enough’. People often refer to the ‘First brick thrown’ at Stonewall in Manhattan as the turning point in gay rights across the western world.
‘As long as my people don’t have their rights across America, there’s no reason for celebration’.
– Marsha P. Johnson
Marsha was a huge activist for the LGBT movement. She was transgender, a sex worker, drag queen and even modelled for Andy Warhol. But she tirelessly campaigned her whole life for the rights of queer people.
Her protest, along with countless others, spearheaded the pride movement.
So, what is Pride today?
Pride comes from within. It’s acknowledging the struggles of the people who fought for our rights to love and seeing where we need to go to achieve equality for everyone across the globe.
Pride does not come from companies who slap a rainbow flag on their social media and products and advocate for the month trying to rake in the pink pound. Pride is about those who fight ferociously in the face of adversity for their right to hold hands with someone they love in public, to marry, to simply exist in their own skin comfortably without fear or oppression.
In 2016 in Orlando, Florida, 50 LGBTQIA+ people were heinously murdered in a gay club by a lone gunman. Those people died in fear and pain, never getting to say goodbye to their loved ones by simply living their own truth. Up until 1992, The WHO still classified same-sex attraction as a mental illness; across the world, many countries punish same-sex attraction or transgenderism with death or imprisonment. During the AIDS crisis, people were given numbers due to the rate of infection and mortality rate.
So when we think of LGBTQIA+ rights, remember it was not so long ago queer people were treated as they had an illness, and still today, people are treated like criminals.
We are not a statistic. We are not 1 in 10 people are gay; we are not a number or a medical condition defined by psychologists. We are a passionate and proud community; when adversity strikes, we stand hand in hand together.
Look to the companies who support the LGBTQIA+ community not just through June, but through the year, through the struggles and hardship, not just through the celebration. Look to allies who speak for the community, who say no to homophobia and transphobia even though their own sexuality is different.
Pride starts the moment someone has the strength to be themselves, unapologetically in their own skin. Gay Pride was not born of a need to celebrate being gay, but our right to exist without persecution.
So, if people ask why there isn’t a ‘straight pride’ movement, be thankful there is no need for one.
Being yourself is never the wrong thing to do. Wave your Pride flag high and remember courage in the face of adversity is your biggest asset.