Over the course of my life, I’ve often heard things like “I have nothing against gays, but gay pride… I can’t tolerate it, it’s just a carnival” “Pride doesn’t make sense, why people flaunt their gayness like that?” “Pride is not for families, I don’t want my kids to see certain things”. Most of the time I stayed silent and didn’t fight those people back because I didn’t want to sound rude. Then I realized that many people stop at appearances without really understanding the meaning of this event. This is why we should educate them and make them aware of why gay pride is important.
This article is for anyone who has ever wondered why gay pride is important to members of the LGBT+ community. In the next few paragraphs, I will answer the most frequently asked questions about pride. I will talk about pride month, explain why we call it “pride” and why the LGBTQ+ flag is rainbow. I’ll also bust some myths, so you know what to say if someone asks you “why is there no straight pride?” (😓)
Read on and you will have all the answers you are looking for!
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What is pride month?
Every year in June the streets of biggest cities are tinged with rainbow and there’s a big party. The reason of all this is Pride Month, the most important time of year for the entire LGBT community. LGBT is an acronym we can use to indicate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. In recent years, the acronym has grown into LGBTQIA+ where “Q” stands for queer, “I” for intersex and “A” for asexual. The final “+” stands for all other sexualities and genders other than heterosexuality and cisgenderism.
But what lies behind all these rainbows and why we celebrate Pride Month in June?
Pride Month: how it started?
To understand the history of Pride Month we need to start from the origins, that is the 50s and 60s. In this particular historical moment takes hold the gay liberation movement, now called the LGBTQ+ pride movement.
The post-war period is remembered as a very difficult historical moment. Queer people were constantly targeted by the police, especially in LGBTQ+ venues where they were repeatedly beaten and arrested.
Following these violent attacks the community, often led by trans women of color, began to react to oppression. The best known events are the 1959 uprising in Los Angeles at the Cooper Do-nuts Café, the 1966 resistance in San Francisco at the Compton Cafeteria and the 1967 Los Angeles protest at the Black Cat Tavern – all popular LGBT hubs.
However, the riot of the riots, the symbol of the reaction to oppression, is that of 1969 in the Stonewall Inn. Stonewall is a still existing gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village. At the time, it was considered a sort of safe haven even for minorities discriminated against by the LGBT community itself, such as black gays and drag queens.
The night between June 27th and 28th there was a raid in the venue. The police began humiliating customers with mandatory “checks” of the genital areas and arresting those who danced with people of their own sex. Neither the first nor the last of the raids in a gay club. What made the difference was the reaction of those accused of indecency because of their sexual orientation/gender. They began to oppose the arrests and the event was extremely resonant. So much so as to kick off the Stonewall riots that became an inspiration for the whole country.
The time for hiding was over. It was time to make the revolution! The following days, thousands of club-goers and other members of the LGBT community went to the scene to protest against the abuses of the police.
Why Pride Month is in June?
Today we remember the Stonewall riots as the event that (symbolically) marked the start of the non-heterosexual/non-cisgender battles for rights and, hence, the annual Pride celebrations. On June 28th 1970, exactly one year after the Stonewall riots, the first Pride parade was held in New York. This explains why we consider June as the month of pride.
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How do you celebrate Pride Month today?
Every year we celebrate Pride Month with parades on the streets all over the world and initiatives of all kinds. The LGBTQ+ community is supported by the members themselves and the allies through readings, political debates, concerts and parties.
In recent years, many brands have openly sided in favor of the LGBTQ+ community and in June they tinge their logos with rainbow colors. However, some members of the community aren’t happy with it. They consider it a marketing gimmick similar to that of Black Friday. The most activist companies, on the other hand, donate part of their revenues to LGBT associations and this does them honor!
Why gay pride is important?
Why Pride matters? The celebration of Pride arises from the need to claim one’s rights. It doesn’t come from the mere desire to celebrate one’s identity, even if today this aspect is equally important.
And why is pride parade is so important? Here are all the reasons that come to my mind.
- The first reason is the most obvious: we have not achieved equal rights yet. Actually, we are still a long way from reaching it. In more than 70 countries all sexualities outside of heterosexuality are illegal and punished with fines, imprisonment and death sentences. We don’t know when all this will come to an end but we know that the fight for rights has always turned tables in history. That’s why we will never give up.
- Even where homosexuality is not a crime, there are people who discriminate against queers because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. Violence against LGBTQ+ people is on the agenda and, in some cases, attacks also take place during gay pride. It happens because haters need to further affirm the supremacy of heterosexuality and to humiliate the LGBT community.
- If people are not aware of what happens in the world they will never be able to get an overall idea of what the LGBTQ community is and the respect they deserve. A concrete example: some friends of Chiara’s father were prejudicial towards queer people. Since they discovered that Chiara has a girlfriend and not a boyfriend they have changed their vision. They know perfectly well that Chiara is a beautiful person and they understand that her sexual orientation does not affect her way of living life. Everybody needs to know that the LGBT+ community is made up of ordinary people, who deserve to love each other as anyone else. Pride Month and Pride Parade are a way to raise awareness, to change the hearts and minds of those who thought differently for a lifetime.
- Prides are empowering. The fear of being attacked, verbally and physically, or being rejected by others pushes queer people to hide in the closet and to hate their own identity. Pride Month is about bringing queer people together and creating that sense of solidarity, of full support.
- Pride mens “You are not alone”. As a matter of facts, when in the past, everybody used to ignore the LGBT community, queers found comfort in each other and began to be proud of their identity only after receiving the blessing of the other members. Even today it is just like that. Pride Month celebrates the self-acceptance process that every LGBT+ person undertakes. Also, with the Pride Parade queer people experience what it’s like to be a majority in a big public place – that’s something that doesn’t happen very often.
Why we have LGBTQ Pride and not Straight Pride?
From time to time I hear this kind of statement: “If there is a gay pride then there should also be a hetero pride”. Usually those who make this kind of statements do not speak in a good-natured way. They do it to say that gay pride is a form of favoritism and this is quite aberrant.
Whenever there’s a day or month of the year dedicated to a discriminated minority, there is a part of the privileged majority ready to lash out. The same happened also with the Black Lives Matter movement and with Women’s Day.
If you happen to not know what to say, you can answer this way. “Straight pride doesn’t exist because…”
- no one will ever kill you / no state will ever sentence you to death for being straight;
- no straight person needs to come out to explain their sexuality to others;
- no straight person is rejected from parents, family or friends because of their sexuality;
- no one yells at you in the street “you f*ing heterosexual” to offend you;
- no straight person is beaten if they walk down the street hand in hand with their partner;
- no one prevents straight people from marrying, adopting children or having marital rights;
- no straight person pretends to be a friend of their partner for fear of being repudiated/attacked;
- no heterosexual has lost their job because of their sexuality;
- no religion condemns heterosexuality.
There would be endless reasons why a straight pride would have no reason to exist. But we can start from these points that show how degrading would it be for the LGBT community to establish a month to celebrate straight people.
I’m not queer. Can I still participate in the Pride?
Another reason why we celebrate Pride Month is to turn all non-LGBT people into allies. It is very important that heterosexual/cisgender people understand that queers deserve to have equal rights.
Pride is not “for” straight people, but that doesn’t mean they can’t come and bring their support to the parade. It is important to remember that this space is dedicated entirely to the LGBT community and the best way to be supportive is to respect and accept the event.
If you intend to participate but you have prejudices against an elderly person who parades with a leather costume, or a drag queen covered in colored feathers, the advice is not to participate. Also don’t take this space as a time to have fun with your straight friends without really understanding the reason for the party. To be supportive you must take responsibility for educating yourself first.
You may not understand some things during the Pride Parade – sometimes even LGBT people do not understand each other – but you can respect the happiness of others. For centuries the queer community has suffered and repressed its own identity and today it is finally possible to live one’s true self in the sunlight. For many LGBTs, especially those of the old school, the parade is a real liberation.
Is pride family friendly?
Ok, everyone can participate. But really EVERYONE? What about the children?
When it comes to the LGBT community, ignorant people often tend to see things in a sexual way, marginalizing everything else. Moreover, they consider homosexuality as a kind of deviance. When we talk about children we always tend to want to “protect” them, as if by participating in the parade they can absorb and replicate “certain things”.
What I think is that we should protect children from much worse things – sexism, racism, violence, just to name something. Taking them to see a parade that encourages respect for diversity could rather help them in the future – they would save confusion or fear in life and would even avoid lashing out at those who are different from them.
Change begins with children, let’s never forget it.
More about Pride Month
Why it is called Pride?
The word “Pride” written in with a capital P recalls two concepts: pride as a feeling and the Pride Parade as the greatest event of the LGBT community. Today we use this word alone to encompass all the realities of the rainbow world.
But why the choice of the word “pride”? Because pride is the opposite of shame, a feeling that many LGBT people – as such – have felt / still feel. People should be proud of who they are because sexual diversity is a gift and not something to be ashamed of. Sexual orientation and gender identity are innate and we cannot intentionally change it, so why shouldn’t they be proud of who they are?
What is the symbol of Pride?
The rainbow flag has been the symbol that puts together the LGBT community for over thirty years. It is waved during the Pride Parade, displayed to celebrate the achievement of rights, and identifies LGBT neighborhoods and venues in any city around the world. But that wasn’t always like this.
Before the 1980s, the main symbol for gay rights was the pink triangle. However, this symbol has a terrible history as it comes from German Nazism. The inverted pink triangle was sewn onto the suits to identify homosexuals in the concentration camps. Anyone who wore this symbol on their suit was stigmatized and mistreated.
After the Second World War, some activists claimed this symbol making it the symbol of resistance to LGBT oppression. However, in 1978 Gilbert Baker, a former army veteran, gay activist and “flag stitch” artist, decided to create a flag to fly during the San Francisco parade under a proposal from Harvey Milk. Despite the popularity of the pink triangle, Baker wanted a symbol with a less dark past. So he gave birth to a rainbow flag painted and sewn personally by him.
The flag was an immediate success. So much so that everyone identified that rainbow as the symbol of the struggle for LGBT inequalities.
Why a rainbow as a symbol of pride?
There are several explanations:
- Queer people used to wear bright colors like yellow or green to identify and recognize each other in the past;
- Pink is a clear reference to the pink triangle of the Nazi era: from the color of pain and persecution to the color of love and pride;
- The song “Over the rainbow” by The Wizard Of Oz would have been inspiring as it refers to an ideal world full of love and peace – right above the rainbow. The rainbow flag today.
The original flag, purchased by the Museum of Modern Art in NY in 2015, consisted of 8 colors that symbolized:
- Hot pink: sexuality
- Red: life
- Orange: healing
- Yellow: sunlight
- Green: nature
- Turquoise: art
- Blue: serenity
- Violet: spirit
Soon the colors became 6 for practical reasons as hot pink was very expensive and turquoise merged with blue. Today, in addition to the rainbow flag that symbolizes all the realities belonging to the LGBT world, there are many other flags that represent more specific realities, such as transgenderism, bisexuality, pansexuality etc.
Although the rainbow flag has changed several times over time, and has been accompanied by other more specific flags, the basic concept is still the same: love, union and respect for all diversities.
I think that’s all we got! If you have any other doubt let us know, we will try to answer you.
Happy Pride Month everybody! 🌈