Fill Your Heart with Pride
“And here you are living despite it all” – a poem by Rupi Kaur that deeply hits the heart of every reader. Although this poem can be related to the lives of many, whether that be because of mental health fights or personal growth, it can clearly be used to highlight the importance of recognising the history of communities and respecting all they have been through to get to where we are now – including the LGBTQ+ community.
So where did it all start? Many are still unaware that June is pride month, an entire month that since 1970 has been dedicated to recognising the injustice and hate that has forever been directed at the LGBTQ+ community and celebrating the journey this incredible community has been on. As I said, this month has been recognised since 1970, one year after the Stonewall Rebellion which took place on 28th June 1969, where New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village which sparked a riot among bar patrons (gay men and drag queens alike) as police violently hauled them out of the bar, sparking days of protests but also education and realisation for wider society. These riots served as a catalyst for gay rights movements all around the world. In 1970 Brenda Howard, a bisexual activist, organised a march to commemorate the one year anniversary of the riots, leading to her being known as the “Mother of Pride”. Sparked by the birth of Pride, the original gay pride flag was designed by activist Gilbert Baker after Harvey Milk challenged him to design a symbol of pride for the gay community prior to the Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25th 1978. Every year members of the LGBTQ+ community peacefully protest, celebrate each other and raise political awareness of issues still actively facing the community. Pride is ultimately rooted in the history of a minority group who have struggled for decades to overcome prejudice and be accepted for who they are.
That is where Pride began.
However, there is still so many issues regarding the LGBTQ+ community that need to be addressed. Yes there has been an incredible and heart-warming increase in support directed at our community in recent years, but we need more. We need more because: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sudan, to name just a few, still impose the death penalty for same-sex relationships, we need more because the word ‘gay’ is still being thrown around children’s playgrounds, we need more because gay marriage is still not legal for many, we need more because LGBTQ+ youths have the highest rate of suicide attempts. Our community, our family, are committing suicide because of this society. We are losing our family. How can we carry on like this is not happening? Pride can only get the community so far, wider society are the ones who need to make the change – you need to make the change for our lives, the lives of people a lot closer to home than you may realise, potentially the life of the person sat right next to you.
Yes there is still pain but through all the negativity and abuse, Pride acts as a release, as a celebration of the love and strength of our community. Everyday people are breaking the moulds set for them by society and that is something that needs to be acknowledged. Through all the “which one of you are the man in the relationship?” questions (I can tell you neither of us are or want to be the man – that’s the entire point of a relationship between two women!) and the “you don’t look gay” statements (what does ‘gay’ even look like?), here we are. The LGBTQ+ community are no longer just surviving, we are truly living. We are being represented in the media, we are becoming increasingly validated by the law and society, we are being accepted and we are striving closer to the equality we’ve always been fighting for.
This pride month, remember that through the hardship, injustice, abuse and tears that have moulded the journey of the LGBTQ+ community – here we are, as beautiful as ever.
We are the future.
Article by Young Reporter Ellie Mae Cox
First published in Grimsby Telegraph 18th June 2019