It is June, and It is Pride Month. It is Global Pride Day 2021! The rainbow ring is on, the fiancé is watching Will & Grace for the umpteenth time, and the country is still in lockdown. Yet Pride is always being celebrated globally in one form or another. Across the internet, virtual Pride events are taking off with millions of people posting, tweeting and sharing their experiences through their words and, videos and pictures.
Some still question whether Pride is still necessary for an increasing accepting Western society. I am asked these questions or subjected to such comments by straight individuals, but also by some queer folk who personally don’t like what Pride has become. I have various reasons why Pride still matters. Why it will always matter, and here are my main three.
Change will always be necessary
In the West, we have come so far in the last half-decade. In the UK, there has never been a better time to be gay, lesbian or bisexuals. We still have plenty of work to do for our Trans family.
But around the world, the story for most queer folk is not the same progression that I have seen in the UK over my short lifetime. Over 65 countries still criminalise homosexuality, and a dozen of those countries demand the pain of death for the simple crime of loving someone of the same-sex. There are plenty more countries and American states that whilst being queer is legal; it is highly discriminated against by moralising governments, religions and societies.
There are less than 30 countries that allow same-sex marriage, with the Netherlands leading the way in 2001, with Taiwan joining the pack in 2019. The crime of conversion therapy is only banned in THREE countries.
We could easily be happy with our gains in this country and stop there. Those gains include job protection, equal age of consent, equal marriage, and so much more. We can be happy with all that and think that Pride is no longer necessary. But Pride was always part protest, and we still have some ways to go. The reason Pride will always matter is because of the singular reality that is none of us can be truly free until all of us are free.
Remember, Celebrate, Envision
The history of Gay is creativity, oppression, protest and plenty of love. Just over 50 years ago, homosexuality was legalised in the UK, and since then, the LGBT Community has campaigned and fought to make the lives of queer folk better. The progression from criminal to outcast to tolerated to accepted and loved needs to be celebrated and remembered. Pride is a safe place where we can celebrate our achievements.
Some comment that it is just a giant party for drinking, drugs and sex. Now take that criticism of Pride and apply it to any other event whether it be a major sporting event or the monarchy or the arrival of the summer sun in the sky and its all suddenly acceptable. Much of what has been achieved in gay life over the last half-century deserves a party and a big party at that!
Except Pride isn’t just always about the past or a party. It is still a protest, and it is about our future. It is about envisioning what comes next for us. What else can we change and improve for the betterment of our queer family? Equalising the rules around blood donations, better support for homeless LGBT folk kicked out by their families, improved mental health support. We have come so far, but we have some way to go.
Part of that includes being a family to each other. That means supporting each other through our shared experiences. We all have unique experiences but there are similarities that allows us to offer advice, guidance or even just a hug to another within our community. Being supportive of each other allows us to create the change we want to see in the world. Pride is an essential part of that journey.
A Reminder To Be Proud
For many other LGBT folks and me, the beginning of our exploration into our sexuality is infected with fear and shame. We each realise that we are different from what we have grown up to understand as normal in our society, family or religion. That difference makes us go searching for answers, and those answers are of filled with shame and threats. The result of that shame and fear is the Closet.
The Closet is the place we hide our reality. We dim our authentic truth to remain safe. Except by hiding our real self, we imprison ourselves.
The moment we accept who we are is when we take a tentative step towards Pride. Coming out of the Closet into our authentic light is a giant leap towards Pride. When we no longer fear who we are and no longer feel ashamed of who we are, we are so close to Pride.
Finally, when we are proud of being our authentic self in terms of our sexuality, we have reached the first summit (with plenty more to climb). Pride is a party, a protest and a reminder that each queer person should be proud of who they are and that they should have the chance to celebrate that.
So with Global Pride Day today and Pride month coming to a close in lockdown, let us look forward to the future with excitement for Pride 2021. But also remember that you should be proud of who you are every single day you are alive.