Pride: 50 Years Later
June, and with it Pride Month, has come to a close, but that doesn’t mean we should stop talking about pride and LGBTQ issues. I hope the love and joy I felt in June continues throughout the year and spurs me to keep doing what I can for our beautiful community and be brave and unashamed of who I am.
I realized I was bisexual a long time ago, but the realization of my sexuality was by no means easy or intuitive. I grew up in an evangelical conservative Christian household. I didn’t really know what being gay meant, but I knew it wasn’t good. I knew gay people were sinning, although I didn’t know how. I knew God didn’t want people to be gay (or at least my Church said God didn’t want people to be gay) and that was enough for me.
As I grew older and grew out of my early Christian indoctrination, the answer “being gay is a sin” wasn’t really cutting it anymore. It turned out a lot of my friends were LGBTQ and started coming out of the closet. Was I supposed to accept that all my middle school friends were living in sin and going to hell? I chose my friends over the church, I chose love and acceptance over hatred and ignorance.
Years go by. I have crushes on boys but girls always stun me with how freaking pretty they are. It’s socially acceptable for girls to call each other pretty and have “girl crushes” and to be physically affectionate with each other. So I assumed I was just a straight girl who found everyone attractive. I finally figured out after years that I had been bisexual this entire time. And accepting my sexuality has been one of the most liberating things ever.
This is just my story and Pride Month encompasses the experiences and stories of all members of the LGBTQ community and celebrating the beauty and bravery in all of us, which is what makes it so beautiful. This year was the first that I went to a pride festival. There were so many rainbows and people wearing pride flags as capes (pictured below is me curled in my first pride flag!). As an introvert, it was slightly overwhelming. But I felt so happy because I had a deep sense that I was surrounded by good people, by my community. My self-consciousness melted away and I knew that here I could be 100% me.
Seeing men holding hands and girls swaying together was such a beautiful thing. Knowing so many people had shown up to express themselves was amazing. I felt so incredibly grateful to be a part of this community and how far we have come. It’s such a beautiful thing to love and be loved and seeing so much love all around makes it hard to understand why this community has faced so much hatred over the years.
This year’s pride was special because it marked 50 years since the Stonewall riots which led to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBTQ rights. It’s important to know the history of pride to truly appreciate where we are now. The Stonewall riots were an uprising against police who raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Manhattan. The riots went on for days and kick-started LGBTQ movements like the Gay Liberation Front and Gay Activists Alliance. Trans activists Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson were critical to the Stonewall riots and in the LGBTQ movement going forward.
The Stonewall riots were 50 years ago and still we celebrate pride. It looks a whole lot different than it did all those years ago when brave queer individuals stood up against police brutality. Today it’s a lot more rainbow filled and commercialized and fun. I think it’s important to remember that the first pride was a riot. I think it’s important to know the history of the community and remember it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with pride being a party, but the hardships of the past and the coming battles of the future should not be forgotten.