In the United States, the month of June has been recognised as Pride Month for decades. Its establishment is a direct response to the Stonewall Riots that happened in 1969. Stonewall is a well-known landmark moment in the fight for LGBT+ rights and voices. The riots led to the foundation of LGBT+ organisations, many of which are still championing activism and advocacy to this day.
As we enjoy this year’s Pride, I’ve identified three things that are required for the LGBT+ community to have the most fulfilling experience (not only during this month but during every month of the year).
We deserve to feel comfortable and safe in the spaces that we have carved out for ourselves mostly out of necessity. While we strive to hold ourselves accountable and treat each other fairly/with respect, the reality is that a majority of the threats come from outside of our community.
Those who consider themselves allies should remember that the LGBT+ community—especially the black LGBT+ community—are forced to exist in a global environment that can be anywhere from extremely uncomfortable to fatal towards them. Allies should remind themselves that while they can, and should, have a lot of fun at Pride, they can also exist in other areas of society without facing the same issues that we do. This should motivate them to make sure that they are not taking up too much room or being prioritised in a space that was not meant for their empowerment.
Another infamous example is that heterosexual men shouldn’t be coming to our Pride events in order to make obviously unwanted advances on lesbians. Police departments, which have had a long history of deadly homophobia, also don’t need to be invading and occupying our events like it’s some type of military operation.
There are few other places and times where LGBT+ folks can feel a sense of togetherness and sanctuary in such a gigantic and public way. So let us have this, at least.
Real Respect From Businesses
Honestly, we can smell the bullshit from miles away. If the LGBT+ community is made aware that a company has been and still continues to donate to anti-LGBT+ organisations and causes, why are so said companies participating in Pride?
There are stories upon stories about companies who have discriminatory practices when it comes to hiring. Employees are even subject to prejudice within these workplaces. Some businesses ignore the unhealthy homophobic/transphobic culture that they have allowed to fester and do not take complaints of harassment against LGBT+ seriously. But some of these same companies will be the first ones to paint a rainbow flag on a product and try to sell it to us.
Like with any other minority demographic, business executives have finally realised that our community has the potential to make them a bunch of money. Many times, it doesn’t even matter that their own employees are being kept out of opportunities, upward mobility, and fair treatment because of their orientation/gender identity. All they care about is potential consumers. With all that in mind, you’d think that they’d come up with a year-round plan for solid outreach and investment in the community but of course…many don’t. They know that pandering can be one of the laziest, yet the easiest way to turn an extremely quick profit.
If you’re going to be trying to extract capital out of our communities, the least you could do is be authentically supportive and protective of us.
Like I said at the beginning of this piece, we must hold ourselves accountable. One of the most important things we need in order to operate efficiently is solidarity—especially with trans people in our very own community.
Chynal Lindsey was a black trans woman who was found murdered in Dallas, Texas. In the U.S. there have been seven trans women killed nationwide this year and if I know anything about this country, that number will only increase as the year continues. Most of the trans women who were taken from us weren’t even over the age of 35 and a majority were in their twenties.
We have to find a way to get rid of the ugly transphobia that still is lurking around within our LGBT communities. Trans people and especially black trans women are in so much danger. There is no time or place for any transphobic ‘jokes’, statements, or sentiments from any one of us. We cannot use the same hateful rhetoric that’s used against gay people only to turn around and use it against trans folks. After all, what would Pride be without them?
Remember that black trans women were the ones standing up as the brave catalysts behind the Stonewall riots in the first place. An attack on any of us is an attack on all of us, and that’s what the spirit of Pride really is all about.