June is globally recognized as LGBTQIA+ Pride month; the history of Pride dated back to New York City in June 1969. In the early-morning hours on June 28, police began a raid on the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. These raids were common at this point and targeted New York’s growing queer population, particularly those who were people of color. Marsha P. Johnson was a Black, trans woman who is credited for starting the Stonewall riots after she threw a shot glass at the mirror within the bar. This sparked many more at the bar to begin to resist the police, which grew into a full-blown anti-police riot. Thus making the Stonewall Riots the first recognized Pride. With many anti-police protests taking place right now it is important to remember the beginning of Pride and how one of the best ways to support Pride is to protest police brutality and support Black queer people.
Now here we are 51 years later and most big Pride celebrations have been canceled due to COVID-19. For many queer folks, Pride celebrations have become a means to meet with the community and celebrate being their authentic selves. However as celebratory as Pride can be for some, to others who are not “out” to certain people in their lives Pride serves as a reminder of this hidden self. This can be especially difficult for Black queer people, but as stated Pride was started by Black people and it is especially important that Black people know that there is a place in Pride for them, no matter where they are on their queer journey.
The status of being “out” can leave many feeling as though there is no place for them in Pride celebrations. Pride is about celebrating one’s queerness and no one should be able to determine how that looks. During Pride, it is important for queer folks to love themselves, no matter where they are in their queer journey. Reflect and look back on how far you have come in your own acceptance of your queerness, instead of putting in against the backdrop of other acceptance. Pride is about you and your own experience of queerness.
For those debating “coming out”, there has been a conversation about reframing the idea of “coming out” and shifting to the idea of “letting in”. As opposed to the idea of unveiling one’s self, letting in allows for queer people to frame the sharing of identity as communicating something that has been. This reframing can help alleviate much of the shame and anxiety that comes with the concept of coming out. Again, Pride should be about queer people loving themselves and not worrying about the acceptance of others. Reframing can help shift the perspective.
For all the allies, this is time to affirm the queer people in your life who have allowed you to be let in on a very important for them. Remind them that you not only love them, but you accept and support them. They get enough hate from the world, they do not need it from the people they have entrusted. Support them beyond posting a rainbow flag. Research, read, learn, and listen. This is what will make you better be able to support them. Remember that Pride, their queerness, and how and when they have chosen to let you in is not about you.
Pride is about queer people celebrating, loving, and accepting themselves with allies supporting them along the way. No matter where you are or how you identify, you are valid and deserve to be proud, don’t let anyone, including that voice inside your head, tell you differently.