By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/TRT Columnist—
It’s June and June is Pride month! Many prides are held in June and, in many areas, you can attend a different pride in June every weekend. I think that is wonderful. I love prides for many reasons. I realize that some folks don’t care for them, but to me, this is what prides offer as I’ve outlined it as follows.
The march: Many prides have a march. Marches can feel great for the marcher to walk through the city streets with a sense of pride in being who they are! I especially love to watch first-time marchers and see their expressions as the crowd cheers them on as they walk by. As a note, I would like to report that every time I’ve marched I’ve noticed that the crowd support has gotten bigger and better—every year for transgender folks. In the Northampton Pride march this past May, there were so many people cheering and sending love to my Springfield, Mass. transgender support group, UniTy, that it was wonderfully overwhelming!
Seeing old friends every year: Sometimes time passes and you don’t see your friends that often, but if they (and you) go to a local pride and/or take part in a pride march, you can see them at least once a year. This is important especially as we grow older. Time flies, things change, health issues change and it’s nice to keep abreast of your friends and what’s happening in their lives. Sometimes, you may find out that someone passed on, which is always sad news. However, sometimes the news is good. You find that they got married, now have a child, moved, have a new job, etc.
Enjoying the new, rising talent in the area: Pride celebrations have entertainers, many of who are budding musicians and performers. It’s great to see/hear them. You can watch their shows and dance along with their music. You may also see LGBTQIA+ friendly politicians on stage. About ten years ago, I volunteered for Northampton Pride and was helping to work the green room where the upcoming acts would wait for their time slot. I met Senator Elizabeth Warren in the green room. Just a couple of years ago, I met Senator Warren again as she was marching in the Boston Pride march. There usually are many other local politicians who will be visible at the local prides.
Having LGBTQIA+ people together in one place: To me, prides are like big family events. No, these folks may not be your blood family but they are your queer family. We may be gay, lesbian, trans, bisexual, etc. but we all share the queerness element. We have all faced opposition from friends and family and sometimes houses of worship, places of work, and groups like bowling leagues, baseball teams, and other sports. So, we all know what rejection feels like. It’s wonderful to find acceptance and to feel the love at prides.
Checking up on the bills in the state legislatures: Yes, you can find the bills on the Internet, but if you visit the various activist group booths at the local prides, they can tell you exactly what bills are on the floor, which are stalled, or whatever the bills current positions are. They can tell you when to show up at the legislative buildings to support current pro-LGBTQIA+ bills or to fight the current anti-LGBTQIA+ bills. This is very important as the Trump administration is chipping away at LGBTQIA+ rights. We need to stand up to this hateful administration and stop them in their hateful tracks. There are other groups too, who are made out of social activists, for instance. You may also find out about groups that support LGBTQIA+ people who are currently imprisoned and many more activist groups too. The way the Trump administration is working against our community means that there are going to be lots of groups who want to stop various hateful bills.
This year is the 50th anniversary of Stonewall: Honor, celebrate and support the historical activism of Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson and others who would not take any more oppression from the NYC police and any more oppression from anyone in general. I will always remember Stonewall, and I will always honor and thank those folks who took the hits and paved the way for us.
So, those are my reasons for attending the local prides. Be proud, be strong, be with your community, enjoy your community, never forget the uprising at Stonewall, and help fight this Trump administration and their hateful ways towards LGBTQIA+ American rights! Yes, I will be at the prides!
*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is retired from 3M and has 3 children and two grandchildren. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.