This is probably not the first time you have heard this question, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last – so, with Pride month now upon us, let’s explore this.
A bit of history…
Let’s go back to where it all started with the Stonewall Riots in NYC (1969) where police raids saw officers asking to ‘check the sex’ of customers enjoying a night out at a bar. By this point, the LGBTQ+ community had endured years of raids, brutality and mistreatment and enough was enough. Sparking the start of a social revolution, the Stonewall Riots really began to start challenging the status quo and significantly, starting conversations around what people had always viewed as a taboo subject. Radical change was needed, and the first part of this is around challenging societal perceptions, and most importantly, starting to educate.
In today’s world…
This much needed galvanising force saw from the next year onwards, Pride events grow in numbers and popularity all over the world in solidarity. Fast forward over 50 years and for most of you reading this, you probably feel that much progress has been made, and being part of the LGBTQ+ community has become easier in society than it ever has been. So, why now? Pride had a very obvious purpose in the earlier days, but why do we still need in now?
There are still many parts of the world where it is illegal and even punishable by the death penalty. Over 70 countries still criminalise some part of, or multiple parts of the LGBTQ+ community. Completely shocking right? Imagine being unable to travel to many parts of the world in fear of facing the death penalty for just, being you? This is a reality for a lot of people. The fact that many of us still have to research LGBTQ+ law before booking our sunny summer holiday, is one of the many reasons why Pride is still more important than ever.
In our society…
Many parts of society are still very heterosexual and cisgendered in their outlook, in their infrastructure, and in their assumptions. There are many everyday experiences that happen within society which still cannot be taken so lightly for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Embracing your partner in public, without looking over your shoulder, first.
Meeting someone new and being asked, ‘do you have a boyfriend/ girlfriend?’, without an inevitable awkward conversation in tow.
Filling in a form and never having to question whether your pronoun will be a selectable option on the dropdown list or not.
Confidently making your way to the toilets, clearly signposted ‘male’ and ‘female’ without a second thought.
Introducing yourself at a party, without ever having to justify or explain who you are or how long you’ve identified as you.
We still have a lot of work to do, to reach a level playing field. But together, and only together, will we be able to re-educate and re-shape the mindset and outward view of today's world.
So, ask yourself again, do we still need Pride?
Is it just an excuse for a parade or a party, or is it still needed? Based even on the very few touchpoints mentioned through this, it is still very much needed. Although certain things may have got easier in some parts of society for the community, there’s still a long way to go.
Pride is a chance for everyone in the LGBTQ+ community to come together, be visible and be proud. It’s an opportunity to loudly embrace our true selves, whoever that may be. It’s an opportunity for the community and allies to show solidarity and celebrate, together, acknowledge the progress that has been made, but most importantly, recognising the journey ahead. We must strive to become more equal and inclusive, for us today, and for us of the future.