I may seem late to the party posting this towards the end of Pride Month but I have a reason this year is an important year for Pride. As the 28th June will mark 50 years since the start of the Stonewall Riots so this week, I am focusing on why we still need Pride, LGBT books, the life of Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera and what happened that night at The Stonewall Inn. Last year I wrote a post about why I go to pride.
This year I have seen a more than alarming amount of people shouting “why don’t we have straight pride?” let’s get one thing set straight, straight people don’t need to fight for their right to get married or defend their relationships, plead for rights, or worry about their rights and protections being taken away. Also, when as Straight person have you had to look around to see if it’s okay to hold the hand of the person you love.
This is why we don’t need a straight pride
· There are still 72 countries with anti-homosexuality laws
· Chechnya has gay detention centres - 40 people have been imprisoned and two have died under torture.
· Homophobic and transphobic hate crimes have more than doubled in England and Wales over the last five years
· 29 deaths of transgender people in the United States due to fatal violence
· 62 per cent of LGBTQ+ graduates in the UK go back into the closet once they enter the job market.
· Even this year a lesbian couple were attacked on a London bus by a gang of youths who demanded they kiss for their entertainment. Like really how is this a thing in 2019!
· LGBTQ people can still be legally fired or denied housing in 29 states (2018 figure)
If you need more reasons, I can give you seven
· Dandara dos Santos (41 years old) Brazil
· Elizabeth "Lizzie" Lowe (14 years old) UK
· Eylül Cansın (23 years old) Turkey
· Jamel Myles (9 years old) USA
· Nigel Shelby (15 years old) USA
· Taylor Alesana (16 years old) USA
· Tyrone Unsworth (15 years old) Australia
The seven people listed above all died because of their sexuality, some were bullied while others were petrified of coming out and saw no other option than to commit suicide and others were murdered.
Pride parades bring forth the importance of learning LGBT history and showing gratitude to those who quite literally fought for LGBT rights. The events that evolved from protests and fighting to parades and a celebration. Pride for a lot of people is a place of comfort and safety. It's proof that people who are part of the LGBT community are loved the way they are by other people, and that they aren’t alone. Like me, many people attend pride to remember and honour people who have passed. In many ways, Pride is a powerful way to show that we won and we have moved on slightly from a time when being queer was thought of as a mental illness and people were institutionalised.
Pride is a reminder to all those outside and within the LGBT community of the relationship with police and the laws that are aimed to dehumanise and take their rights away. Before you knock Pride, think about the teenager who is going to a Pride because they get to be themselves without fear of judgement. Think about the elderly gay man for whom pride is a reminder of how far we've come.
Each year we are slowly making progress, can you image what Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Riviera would do if they knew RuPaul would be aired on TV and Jazz Jennings would publicly transition. We are making progress and we need to keep looking and moving forward. There are events from recent history where people thought they were right as it was the social norm and are now seen as being on the wrong side of history, need refresher segregation let’s not be on the wrong side of history.