Why We Still Need Pride Parades
Pride parades are safe spaces in a country where LGBTQ people can be harassed, fired, and denied housing or even medical care.
By Robin Carver | Jun 20, 2018
The sun was invisible behind a sheen of Saturday clouds as I crossed the intersection in six-inch platform heels. I was comfortable, and modestly dressed — but even modest outfits are loud on my six-foot-six trans body.
A car horn grabbed my attention as I made my way across the sidewalk, so I turned to make sure I wasn’t about to get sideswiped.
The car slowed down and pulled alongside me. Four grown adults literally pointed at me, laughing and throwing slurs, while the two on the passenger’s side pulled out their phones and took pictures — presumably to laugh at later with friends.
Later in the same week — this time as I wore jeans, sneakers, and a T shirt — roughly the same thing happened as I walked to the grocery store.
But bullying is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to attacks against the trans community in America.
Had any of these bigoted bullies hit me with their car, stabbed me, or beaten me, EMTs could legally refuse life-saving care to my broken body on religious grounds because I’m trans. The same could happen at the hospital they might take me to — whether it’s a religious institution or not, according to guidelines from the Trump administration.
If I died at any of those people’s hands, they could very likely come off innocent or at least with a reduced sentence by citing the fact that I’m trans — a legal defense strategy known as the “trans panic defense,” which is legal everywhere in the U.S. except California and Illinois. (Other bills are pending in New Jersey, Washington, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia, but they haven’t been passed yet.)
These realities haunt me when I leave the house every day. The shadows grow longer every time I see that another trans woman has been murdered, and every time I see the kind of conservative “Christians” I grew up around claiming it’s their religious liberty to deny me my life and my participation in society at large.
Every day, it’s terrifying. Every day except Pride.
Each June, most major cities in the U.S. hold “Pride” parades and festivals — technically in memory of the Stonewall riots started by Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans woman, gay rights activist (terms were looser back then), and drag queen.
Go to any Pride parade and you’re likely to see more glitter than all the arts and crafts projects the world can muster. You’ll see queer bodies of all colors in various states of dress (and undress) in all the colors of the rainbow we’ve gleefully claimed.
Pride is a carnival, a festival. At its best, it’s a feast of love and the best attention money can’t buy. It’s a kaleidoscopic display so bright, intense, and varied that you can almost, for a moment, forget that LGBTQ people can still be legally fired or denied housing in 29 states — more than half of the country.
At Pride, I can strut up and down the street in glitter and a bikini top and no one laughs. For one or two beautiful days, LGBTQ people can walk around with their heads held high in public, in a kind of safety that most of us take for granted every other day of the year.
We still need Pride events all across this country, because all across this country we’re still not safe. So, until every LGBTQ person has a safe home, until all of us have a well-paying job that respects us, and until we’re all afforded the basic legal dignities that everyone else enjoys: We’ll continue to march, and dance, and parade like there’s no tomorrow.
Robin Carver is a development assistant at the Institute for Policy Studies. Distributed by OtherWords.org.
Finding Pride and Fighting Prejudice
Pride Month is about fighting for the simple right to live as you are and love who you love without fear.
By Olivia Alperstein | Jun 27, 2018
Like many other people in the LGBTQIA community, the first person I had to come out to was myself.
I didn’t have to endure bullying or intimidation when I discovered I was bisexual — and in that I’m lucky. Even in my high school, in a college town with lots of highly educated people, kids had their heads slammed into lockers for merely being perceived as queer.
My mom didn’t throw me out or refuse to talk to me after I came out, but I have many friends who lost their loved ones and had to find a new family. Throughout my self-discovery, I was never lost or alone. Many kind people welcomed me and showed me the true meaning of pride.
Thankfully, I was able to start building my community early. I joined my high school’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) in my freshman year as a straight ally, before I figured out my sexual orientation. We met to learn about queer history and discuss how to make our community more inclusive.
A GSA is a close-knit group of people who do activities like any other school club — but who also act as a support system for kids who face discrimination.
They’re often the first people to call out school administrators for not doing enough to support students. And they create a safe environment for confidential discussions — on everything from dealing with an unaccepting parent to having a secret crush to self-harm.
They can be a literal lifeline. The rate of suicide and self-harm in the LGBT community is disproportionately high — and sadly, so is the rate of domestic violence.
In many school districts, GSAs may have to fight for the right to even organize a club. But somehow, somewhere, many of us find a community one way or another. It could be a theater group, a local advocacy organization, an online forum, or a group of friends.
My friends in the LGBTQIA community mentored me and taught me about the community’s history. Most of all, they taught me to have a deep, angry, enduring sense of pride.
Queer people have had to fight for every civil and human right there is. The right to adopt a child, be served by a business, rent a home, retain a job — these aren’t a given. That’s why we keep fighting, marching, and yes, openly demonstrating pride.
June is Pride Month, and for every string of beads or rainbow flag or sticker, there’s a kid out there somewhere finding themselves. A kid who for the first time sees the words “gender queer” or “transgender” in an article and gets a name for the “square-peg-in-a-round-hole puzzle” (as a friend put it) that is their personal gender identity.
There’s a kid who feels suddenly like they belong, and is running gleefully around with glitter and a rainbow cape, awash with pride. Or the kid who finds community elsewhere, with people who celebrate pride every day by surviving and caring for each other.
There’s pride, too, for friends and family who see a young (or not-so-young!) person blossom and thrive as they are. There’s pride for folks whose identities remain closeted but who are no less a part of the community. There’s pride in celebrating those who’ve left this world but whose legacy we continue to carry.
And there’s pride for young children who grow up learning to love and accept people for who they truly are. The kids lined up along the parade route or happily sitting atop a parent’s shoulders, catching beads or waving a rainbow flag.
Pride is about knowing our history, and how far we have yet to come. It’s about fighting for the simple right to live as you are and love who you love without fear. That’s something worth celebrating.
Olivia Alperstein is the Deputy Director of Communications and Policy at Congressional Progressive Caucus Center. Distributed by OtherWords.org.