You might not think that parade floats can save someone’s life, but Pride parades held worldwide in June are part of a celebration that does just that. These joyful festivals are the most visible part of a movement that has been growing since the 1970s to encourage acceptance of people in the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community by society at large, and celebrate their unique identities among supporters. Pride changes lives in a positive way every year, all around the world.
A brief history of Pride
The very first Pride parade took place in New York City in June 1970, in recognition of the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Stonewall was a nightclub in New York City that catered to the LGBTQ community while others would not. In June of 1969, police raided the club and used excessive force on the patrons. A riot broke out as they resisted arrest for breaking laws that targeted their community unfairly. The first Pride Parade was held one year later to mark the date, and for the 50 years since, communities around the globe have been celebrating Pride Month with festivals, concerts, parades and other events.
Pride Works Against Discrimination
The events that led to the creation of Pride happened because of discrimination toward LGBTQ people. Almost every country has historically oppressed this community, making it illegal to marry and have relationships with people of the same gender. The laws that oppress the LGBTQ community come from cultural beliefs that deem their relationships as morally wrong. As our societies have grown more understanding, these laws are rolled back and the mainstream culture is more tolerant of LGBTQ people and their relationships.
Pride Shows the Human Side
There is still a lot of work to be done, as many still hold onto beliefs that discriminate against the LGBTQ community. These people may be in positions of authority, or have friends and members of their own family who are LGBTQ, and their opinion on others’ sexual orientations can hurt those around them. Pride gives LGBTQ people a chance to see that there are others like them in the world, and it also shows people who are less familiar with LGBTQ issues the human side of the community. In some places, LGBTQ people feel like they have to hide their true selves away in order to be accepted. Pride gives them a chance to feel safe as they celebrate with their friends and supporters. Someone who might not think they know a gay or lesbian person could see the crowds at a Pride Festival, and come to understand that they are just like everyone else. The more open everyone can be about our identities, the more accepting society will be for LGBTQ people.
Acceptance is Caring
Many who oppose Pride parades use the argument that they can accept someone’s identity as long as they don’t talk about them. This kind of attitude leads to people feeling shame about their identities, and that can be very harmful. It can even lead to addiction, depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses among LGTBQ people. The more we can do to teach acceptance in our culture and among our friends and family, the healthier the LGBTQ community will be emotionally and physically. Show that you care for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer people in your life, and ask how you can help them celebrate Pride this Month!