The month of June holds global recognition as “Pride Month” and is a time for most celebrations of the LGBTQIA+ community. While Boston Pride draws attention during the second weekend of the month, Worcester chooses to postpone its celebration until the arrival of fall. Meanwhile, there will be a noticeable increase in queer-coded merchandise, events, and visibility of advocacy efforts during this month. I strongly encourage everyone to reflect on what it means to take pride in something and why this month holds significance for the LGBTQIA+ community.
The first Pride March was a NYC riot in response to a police raid of the Stonewall Inn on Christopher St the night of the last Saturday in June 1969; since then NYC holds its Pride celebration every last Sunday of June. The riot itself served as a resistance movement against the ongoing and systematic discrimination faced by the queer community, historically perpetuated through the abuse of power by law enforcement; exhausted by the disruption of their social and personal lives and the shame imposed upon them through arrests, closure of queer spaces, and outright police brutality, the queer community united. Marsha P. Johnson, a person assigned male at birth who defied gender expectations, is credited with initiating the riot by throwing the first brick. Her actions exemplify the bravery and fatigue experienced by the Black queer community, who strive for the right to live, pursue happiness, and freely express themselves.
It is of utmost importance that the gay community remembers and honors the immense bravery of the transgender and gender-expansive community. They have been instrumental in achieving the rights and privileges we currently enjoy. Unfortunately, these rights are now under attack, particularly affecting transgender individuals who face heightened vulnerability in numerous states nationwide. In some states, it is becoming illegal to exist and express gender identities outside the binary. Floridian children are now at risk for removal from their home if their parents support them in any gender-fluid expression of self including the use of different pronouns or gender coded dress that matches binary cisgender norms for their sex assigned at birth. Dozens of other states are pushing for legislation that would punish gender expansive expression, traumatize children through unnecessary removal, or otherwise endorse a culture for which lynching of queer people may become common. Banning books and media with queer representation is a specific form of fascism that must be resisted and for anyone who is a resident of a state or municipality for which such legislation and efforts are developing I strongly encourage you to reach out to your local representatives and to advocate protection of trans youth.
Representation matters and is one of the two most important factors to reduce suicidal risk in queer youth, the other is having access to caretakers and trusted adults for which they are supported in navigating, exploring, and expressing their gender and identities in whatever way is authentic.
As the month unfolds, varying events and seasonal activities occur, and the flowers continue to brighten our day please remember that some of our most vulnerable may not survive the year in light of the fresh oppression and legalization of discrimination and hate that is developing in our nation. Consider donating to a local area advocacy league, pride community center, or the ACLU at the very least.
May you have a healing June during these oppressive times.