June is more than just the start of summer. It's also a month to celebrate the lives of LGBTQI people and the history of the movement itself. Pride month is so important because it's a time for LGBTQI people to reflect on how far we've come as a community but also acknowledge the setbacks that we've faced and are still facing. Queer people face discrimination daily and as a community (along with our allies) we need to understand and recognize the history of Pride as well as significant figures who have fought for us to have our rights and exist within our own identities today.
For myself, I haven't been able to experience Pride month until this year. I came out to my parents late last year and this will be my first time celebrating as a part of the LGBTQI community. Now that I am able to celebrate and be myself wholeheartedly. It made me think of those who have paved the way for myself and others to be our highest and most fly selves. Those that helped pave the way so that we can feel like we matter in a world that constantly tries to tell us that we don't. As a queer black woman, this month is a time for myself and others to celebrate ourselves.
Pride's origin dates back to the 1969 Stonewall Uprising. The Stonewall Uprising took place in New York City where police horribly attacked people in a gay bar. Many of the people in the bar fought back against the attacks that were clearly discriminatory. During this time being queer or transgender was seen as a crime. The bodies of queer and transgender women and men were often policed. They were constantly harassed for being themselves. The acts of resistance and riots that took place during the month of June in 1969 are what have propelled us into a direction of change and discourse around what it means to be queer or transgender in America.
There are three people who are significant to the history of Pride. Those individuals are Marsha P. Johnson (Self-identified Drag Queen, sex worker, gay liberation and transgender activist), Sylvia Rivera (Gay liberation and transgender activist, and self-identified Drag Queen), and Stormè DeLarverie (A black biracial butch lesbian and Drag King). But we cannot forget the countless others who put their lives and bodies on the line to fight back against police brutality. It's up to us to remember their lives and their years of activism and organizing because all of this did not start with the Stonewall uprising.
I hope that during this Pride Month, we are all able to remember its history and those who sacrificed and experienced constant discrimination so that we could experience the change and progress that we see today. But we still have a lot of work to do (such as dismantling the racism and discrimination within our own community). Transgender lives (more specifically black transgender women and people of color) will always be at the forefront of my activism. So this Pride month, let's work to celebrate and be our highest and most fly selves as well as be aware of those that paved the way. Happy Pride Month! Remember to be safe however you are celebrating.