It is often lost on us that LGBTQ Pride began as a commemoration of the Stonewall Riots, which occurred in 1969. What has turned into a celebration marked (pre-pandemic) with marches, floats, parties, and rainbow everything was initially a remembrance of those who put their lives on the line and said, “no more” to police intimidation and state sanctioned violence against our community. Specifically, it was Black transgender women like Marsha P. Johnson that risked it all to put an end to the constant threats and terrorism LGBTQ people had to endure just for trying to live free.
As we begin another Pride season with the pandemic still looming and racial tensions remaining at an all-time high it’s fair to wonder how we will experience this sense of “wholeness” that Pride brings when many of us are feeling so disconnected, worn out and riddled with anxiety after the experiences of the last year and a half of a pandemic and years of government authorized violence from the disgraced former President Donald Trump. Pride has historically been an unapologetic sense of freeness for our community—a month marked with celebration and yet even though we are beginning to see light at the end of this Covid-19 tunnel of despair—there are countless people we have lost along the way and the trauma of this won’t soon be forgotten.
Not to mention that even during a catastrophic pandemic the viciousness experienced by our community didn’t relinquish. Instead, as we all remained worried for our lives from a killer virus, Black transgender women were murdered at an unprecedented rate. Headlines didn’t cease with the killings of unarmed Black and Brown people even after the historic trial of Derek Chauvin, the ex-police officer that killed George Floyd, police have continued to double down on violence against us.
What many of us have come to realize during these arduous times is that joy is in fact apart of the revolution as is rest. The late poet and author Audre Lorde once said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self- preservation, and that is an act of political warfare”. The celebration of Pride is a way for us to care not only about ourselves as queer people but about our community at large. It’s an opportunity for us to show up in mass— even if virtuality to recommit to ourselves and each other that we are still here, still queer and damn proud of it. That regardless of all the obstacles and discriminatory policies being introduced to limit our fullness as people that we will persevere.
Pride, especially for QPOC isn’t just a party but a month-long series of mantras that re- align us with our history and our purpose. That as long as there is breath in our bodies, we will continue to honor the legacy of those that came before us and fought for us to be a little bit freer. So, dance, sing, chant and wave your rainbow flags because even though we are still facing real problems—we are still here and that is something worth celebrating.