June is considered ‘Pride’ for the LGBT community, in honor of the Stonewall Riots of 1969. Originally, it started out as ‘Gay Pride Day’, celebrated on the last Sunday in June, but quickly expanded to a weeklong celebration, at the suggestion of Brenda Howard, a bisexual rights activist, and her LGBT activist friends, L. Craig Shoonmaker and Robert A. Martin. This trio also popularized the term ‘Pride’ to describe these events.
Both President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama have issued proclamations recognizing June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.
But have we lost sight of what Pride truly is? What does Pride mean to you? And what have you done to help further LGBT rights?
The Stonewall Riots were a turning point, a time when those who were deemed ‘different’ and ‘deviants’ decided enough was enough. They took pride in who they were and fought back. They risked themselves because they knew they deserved to be treated with respect and dignity. And because of them, others stepped forward. Supporters who had previously remained quiet. Friends and family came forward, demanding that homosexuals and bisexuals and transgenders be treated with equality.
The people of Stonewall became icons, and the event itself became the fuel that the fight for equality needed. And now it’s up to us to continue that fight, not just for same-sex marriage, but for equality across the board.
Pride now has turned into a cross between a giant singles bar and a flamboyant display of Pride Flags. Sure, we walk around to the booths, but how many of us go to those booths for a free sticker or pin? Do you really take a moment to look at the information they’re providing? How many know what the colors on the Pride Flag represent? Or the other flags and symbols of the LGBT community? These things are important, but most important, what does Pride represent for you?
We can talk about the history of Pride Month, which is important to know, but it’s also important to know where Pride is headed from here. What is your Pride? What are you fighting for?
Mine? It’s the security of knowing I can be myself, always, and be safe. That I can hold a job and not worry about being fired because someone makes an assumption about what goes on in my bed. It’s the desire to not have to worry about being accosted when using the women’s restroom in a public place. It’s the want to be treated as a human being. Because in the end, that’s what I am. Human. I’m not some pedophilic monster or some ‘rainbow recruiter’. I’m me. I’m Teri, and I’m a lesbian. But I’m also a writer, a geek, a cancer survivor, and much more. You see, my sexuality is only part of who I am, and while my lesbianism is prominent in my life (I’m butch, and I dress accordingly), it’s not the only part of me.
When you call me a dyke, or tell me I’m going to Hell because I’m attracted to women, you’re only seeing one side of me. Take your blinders off. I have faults, yes. But being a lesbian is not one of them.
This June, what are you proud of?
I am proud of who I am. I am proud of my sexuality, my strength, and where I’ve come from. And I am fighting for equality.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it – George Santayana