June is the month where voices of the LGBTQ+ community are elevated and is commonly known as Pride Month. Activism is rooted into Pride to represent all members of the community and the overall theme is to spread a feeling of validity in the course of the month.
At Worldly Strategies, we aim to amplify LGBTQ+ voices as well as others in the work we do with the knowledge that every little bit of effort can raise awareness related to communities who are either misrepresented or not represented at all. We enjoy working with and celebrating our LGBTQ+ employees and clients this month and every month.
As we celebrate Pride this month, it is important to look back on the origins of the annual celebration.
How Did Pride Begin?
Usually when this question is asked, we immediately date back to the Stonewall Riots. It’s true that Pride rose out of the events of the Stonewall Riots, but it’s crucial to acknowledge that this was not the first time a riot broke out due to police brutality against LGBTQ+ individuals.
Stonewall occurred in June 1969 when police officers raided the Stonewall Inn in New York and began arresting individuals. The Stonewall Inn was a bar that was frequented by drag queens and gay men of color and the fact that officers stormed the bar with no clear motive other than arresting people at random, restless crowds of patrons began to fight back.
Many people credit Black transgender women like Marsha P. Johnson for being the first ones to start off the groundbreaking event by throwing bricks and shot glasses at the police. This is widely being acknowledged today due to the fact that Black transgender women are being murdured at high rates, have a life expectancy between ages 35 and 37, and earn $10,000 annually which is below the poverty line.
Another important figure during and after Stonewall was Sylvia Rivera, a Latinx transgender woman, performer, and friend of Marsha P. Johnson. In the 70s, transgender people were not given opportunities to speak even though they were the main ones contributing to the Pride movement. After she was told that she could not speak at a 1973 Pride parade, she took the microphone anyway and said, “If it wasn’t for the drag queen, there would be no gay liberation movement. We’re the front-liners.”
Women of color like these two individuals set the standards for intersectionality within the queer community.
Pride began as a series of protests and riots in order for queer individuals to retain their rights as human beings. Even though the origins are never forgotten, Pride has taken a more celebratory meaning today along with the activism.
How is Pride Celebrated Today?
Pride parades are returning after a recovery from the pandemic and are being hosted virtually and in-person.
Even when not attending a Pride parade, it's a simple yet powerful act to just start up a conversation and educate people about the Pride movement. If you’re willing to speak up about queer rights at one of the parades, that same energy should be shown everywhere you go like the workplace, school, and at home. Pride month tends to lure in performative acts from companies and people who only see the movement as an opportunity to seem more “woke” or for profit. The goal for Pride has always been about fighting for the human rights of queer individuals.
Pride can be honored by supporting LGBTQ+ creators and business owners as well. This adds to the representation of successful queer individuals, which is needed for the younger generation to understand that they can grow up to be appreciated and respected as individuals regardless of sexuality or gender.