Happy Pride, everyone! In honor of LGBTQ Pride month, I decided to write a bit about what Pride means to me.
Pride Is Identity
I am a sister, a daughter, a New Yorker - these are three identities I have. I am also a Black bisexual woman - three identities that I fight for daily. When I say fight, I mean this: I fight for my personhood to be recognized, I fight microaggressions, I fight images filled with Eurocentric beauty standards, I fight an abundance of conscious and unconscious signals that say, “You are stupid, ugly, angry, dangerous, invisible.”
What does this all have to do with Pride?
When I was in high school, I came home from GSA one day and I asked my dad, “Why do you define yourself as Gay? Why don’t straight people define themselves as straight?”
“Because I had to fight for that identity,” He said. The lesson was, there are identities we inhabit and perform without thought and there are identities we fight for every day. It’s that fight that creates the need for Pride.
Pride Is Recognition
It’s hard to thrive or even exist when surrounded by messages that tell you you’re worthless, or worth less. So when the world won’t recognize you, you learn to recognize yourself.
“We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it,” a chant popularized at Queer Nation NY demonstrations, might sound trite now but at its heart Pride is about standing up and recognizing your identity when others laugh, scorn, and deride it.
Pride Is Reflection
It’s not that identity is only legitimate through pain - far from it. But as an LGBTQ person, introspection often accompanies identity. I think that’s incredible.
To be LGBTQ today is to say, “I don’t think I’m like all of these other people. Why is that?”
I don’t believe identity should have to start with a negation but I also don’t think to be “other than” is a bad thing. Otherness is not synonymous with loneliness. In this case, what you “lose” is a world that dismisses your identity or ignores it completely. What you gain is a world of understanding and, yes, Pride.
Pride Is Remembrance
The first NYC Pride March in 1970 commemorated the previous years’ Stonewall riots.
Pride is recognizing that you are a part of something larger than yourself. It’s political and personal and it’s a history of discrimination and blood and apathy and hard-won battles. Pride is about remembering those who came before you, who gave their time and their lives for freedoms we now enjoy.
This June you should absolutely celebrate yourself, your community, your friends. While we celebrate, let’s remember those lost along the way.
As human beings, we have incredible reservoirs of empathy and compassion even when faced with our warring capacity for violence and hatred. We must all tap into those reserves to make sure the events of June 12th are never repeated. In the wake of Orlando, the LGBTQ community came together in a beautiful show of love and support. And this Pride, whether you need to mourn, remember, or celebrate, you do so with a whole community by your side.
Pride Is Progress
Lastly, Pride is about learning from history and looking forward to a better future. We can always do more and do it better. Our story isn’t over and we have a lot of battles still to fight.