Why Pride Month Is Important
Posted on June 24 2019
Pride Month is finally here! Now while I'm getting excited about going to my first Pride Parade, there are people out there who ask why Queer Pride Month is necessary, and why it's a thing. It is vital for many reasons, some of which lie in its history.
There were 'Annual Reminder' parades as early as 1965; public reminders that the LGBTQAI+ community doesn't have the same fundamental civil rights as others - just because of how and who they love. However, the critical turning point for the modern Pride movement is the Stonewall Riots, otherwise known as the Stonewall Uprising. In the early hours of The Stonewall Inn in New York City, on 28th June 1969, the police raided the Stonewall Inn - but this time, queer people fought back. Laws prohibiting public sexuality in the 1960s meant that there were minimal options for queer people, and raids of queer establishments were routine. Enough was enough. The international queer rights movement was born.
The first gay pride event happened in 1970 to commemorate the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Pride parades have sombre roots. The first gay pride event was a march where people held signs and chanted: “Say it clear, say it loud. Gay is good. Gay is proud.”
Gay pride marches have evolved into pride parades - a jubilant, proud display of the LGBTQAI+ community that celebrates people for who they are. It's a reminder to the world that we exist. It's a glorious embodiment of 'we're here, we're queer, and we will live our lives without fear'.
Despite the progress that has been made over the years, we still live in a heteronormative society. This means that people are usually assumed to be 'straight' unless they say otherwise. Look at how many queer films and TV shows there are compared to hetero ones. There are significantly less queer films and shows, aren't there? In 2018, only 18.2% of movies released by seven major studios featured LGBT+ characters, though it is still an improvement from 2017's 12.8%. Plus, there's the whole queerbaiting phenomenon, which has no place in today's society. Moreover, there's the fact that people feel that they “have to come out”. People shouldn't have to come out. People shouldn't have to explain themselves. People shouldn't have to defend who they are and the characteristics they were born with. If we lived in a truly equal and accepting world where people were free to be who they are, and not be forced into boxes that humans are too messy and complicated to fit perfectly into, then there wouldn't much need for a pride parade.
Pride parades inspire people to be their authentic selves. It helps and liberates young queer people to come out and feel like it's okay to be themselves. The famous YouTuber Dan Howell came out recently, and his struggles and awful experiences with queerphobia are commonplace and part of the reason why Pride Month is need - why queer pride parades are needed.
Pride Month is a time of celebration and remembrance. We remember the brave people who fought for our right to live; it's a celebration of love, acceptance and individuality.
Here's the thing: straight people don't need allies or fight for their right to marry, have children, worry whether it's okay to hold their loved one's hand, defend their relationships, plead for rights, or worry about their rights and protections being taken away. These are privileges that are taken for granted. Straight people aren't discriminated against because of their sexuality. Straight rights and protection of families, homes and jobs are assumed.
Pride Month reminds people how privileged they are not to need straight pride.
We live in a world where LGBTQAI+ people are invariably told that they're wrong and that they're not okay. But this doesn't exist in the animal kingdom. Take Sphen and Magic for example, Australia’s famous gay penguin couple. Queerphobia and discrimination against others because of their sexuality only exist in humans.
To conclude, we have Pride Month to stand for love, acceptance, remembrance and the freedom to be ourselves. We have much to be grateful for, though the specifics will be different between individuals. You can count on me attending my first pride parade with my head held high and a smile on my face, partying alongside my LGBTAI+ siblings and showing everyone that it's okay.