In June 1969, a bunch of members of the queer community in Manhattan, New York took a stand against police harassment and riots broke out. Raids at gay bars were a common practice at the time, but this particular incident got out of hand and went down in history as a symbol of the LGBTQ fight for equality. This incident came to be known as the Stonewall Riots. Ever since that day, the month of June has been noted as Pride month – to remember the struggle of LGBTQ people and celebrate the colourful, inclusive community.
But what does Pride really mean? Well, in a world where LGBTQ people are shamed, abused and discriminated against, the most poignant form of rebellion is to be proud of your identity. And we must say, when you have to fight against the hetero-patriarchal binary and all its impositions of conformity, it takes an incredible amount of strength to do so.
Pride, at its core, entails a sense of acceptance. Firstly, accepting oneself despite not fitting in with society’s cookie-cutter culture, and secondly, accepting those around you no matter how different they may be. The LGBTQ community doesn’t just embody this sentiment during the month of June, but rather, it runs through their every vein, throughout the year. When the world doesn’t accept you, accepting it regardless, is the bigger thing to do.
This fight for societal acceptance though is gaining traction over the years. In large measure due to the internet and TV shows celebrating queer people, the visibility of LGBTQ people in the mainstream has drastically gone up in the past few years. And visibility is the first step to wide-spread acceptance.
Despite the long, dark history of discrimination and violence against queer people, their demonstrations always have a colourful, joyous feel to them. Rather than a form of violent protest, Pride is a celebration of the rainbow coalition of beautiful, unique, and diverse people that give the community its incredible spirit. It is a space where they can proudly proclaim their identities and celebrate their lives irrespective of who has a problem with it.
This very idea, of unabashedly being yourself in the face of adversity, is a beautiful value we can all learn from the LGBTQ community. When the world envelopes you with hate and darkness, you can either fight back with vitriol or pay no heed to the haters and focus on spreading love and joy.