It’s Pride month, and rainbow flag waving is at an all-time high. Nationally, acceptance of LGBTQ+ folks is greater than ever, and many individuals and organizations are working hard ensure that tolerance and acceptance continues to increase nationwide.
Yet, it seems like almost everyone nowadays wants to buy into the culture of love, acceptance, and queerness, which is great, but not as many want to do the work that is still so desperately needed. While flag waving is fun and will give you a few extra likes on Instagram, we cannot forget those who are still struggling, those who cannot escape their homophobic or transphobic communities, and those who have died fighting for equality.
There are still many LGBTQ+ people who live in communities where they aren’t safe to be out, many folks whose families don’t approve of their ‘choice’ (because we all know being queer is a choice, obviously *cue eye roll*), and many who are still questioning their identities.
As we cover ourselves in glitter, let’s take a moment of reflection for those who are continuing to struggle, whether its from unaccepting family, hostile communities, or discriminatory legislation. Let’s especially remember the LGBTQ+ youth:
42% of LGBT Youth say the community in which they live is not accepting of LGBT people
40% of all homeless youth in the United States identify as LGBTQ+
LGBTQ+ Youth are more likely to be homeless
4 out of 5 LGBT Youth are victim to harassment in school
This month, I also hope we can remember those who advocated, those who fought for their rights when the possibility of being equal citizens was only a dream; those who weren’t safe being out, who came out and risked it all; and those whose bravery allow us to celebrate love today. Their work, struggles, and activism paved the road for activists today. We have so much more work to do, but we would be nowhere without them. We remember you, we appreciate your work, and we won’t forget you.
Activists to remember this Pride:
Marsha P. Johnson – Threw the first brick which instigated the Stonewall Uprising, Marsha was an activist for queer and transgender folks in NYC.
Audre Lorde – “Black, Lesbian, Mother, Warrior, Poet” – self-description of herself, Lorde advocated for recognizing the importance of the intersections of identity and their importance to social justice.
Del Martin and Phyllis Lion – Founders of “Daughters of Bilitis”, the first lesbian organization in the United States. The pair also started the first lesbian newsletter in the US, The Ladder
Sylvia Rivera – Another instigator of the Stonewall Uprising, then worked to help homeless and hustling trans kids by starting Street Transvestite Active Revolutionary, later called STAR House.
So go ahead, wave your flags, don your rainbow attire, and take to the streets to support your family, friends, and coworkers who are LGBTQ+. But don’t forget those who fought for their rights before it was marketable. Don’t forget the names of the activists who broke through the toughest barriers and those still breaking them down. Remember all those who were beaten, arrested, discriminated against, and killed for who they were. Remember them and their struggles, so our celebrations now can be a bit sweeter.