The Importance Of Pride Celebrations In These Troubled Times

lgbtq+ peopleDeja Nicole Greenlaw at a former Pride celebration circa 2012.
Photo: TRT Archives

Celebrating June Pride Month but …

By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/TRT Columnist—

It’s June and in many towns and cities around the world, you can find Pride festivities that are attended by many people. I recently attended Northampton (NoHo) Pride in Northampton, Massachusetts and, according to the organizers, there was estimated to be more than 40,000 people in attendance.

I have been attending Noho Pride since 2004 and every year the attendance gets bigger. I attribute the attendance increase to the changing times and the evolving views of people. Younger people are attending Prides in larger numbers than ever before and many new allies have sprung up at Prides, especially in the form of church groups. Other groups are also attending Prides such as the #MeToo contingent known as “Say Something,” or freedom for all groups such as Freedom for All Massachusetts.

There is another political presence to Prides evident in the marches. People march in their groups to show the world who they are, what they represent, and what they want. It’s a bold political statement to march. You are standing up for yourself, your friends, and for people you don’t even know, but who need you to stand up for them. It’s especially important to stand up and march in these times of Republican power in the White House. This administration’s appointees are often not very friendly to LGBTQ folks.

During the time of Democratic power in the White House, the appointees were much more committed to upholding the civil rights of LGBTQ people. A case in point is an “old” meme I recently saw on Facebook the other day. It was a picture from 2016 of the Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, and her quote, “Let me speak directly to the transgender community. No matter how isolated or scared you may feel today, the Department of Justice and the entire Obama Administration wants you to know that we see you; we stand with you, and; we will do everything we can to protect you going forward.”

The current Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is not an ally in the least to the transgender community. As a matter of fact, he is trying to set us back rather than helping us and protecting us. He already reversed an Obama administration ruling and took away transgender protections in the workplace. He’s also working to remove transgender people from the military. This is what happens when you elect a Republican into the White House.

Prides are also great times to network and connect with the movers and shakers of political organizations. They know the upcoming bills and have the strategies to help protect the rights of LGBTQ people. They can tell you the dates and timetables of the bills and when and who to lobby. It’s important to reach out to your lawmakers and let them know that you need their support. It’s also important for the lawmakers to see you in person as their constituents because, after all, if they know your story then they may be able to better understand your situation and direct their votes to help you.

By the way, if you are a voter in Massachusetts, please vote “yes” in the upcoming November election on the question on trans rights. A “yes” vote means that you’re saying “yes” to uphold transgender protections.

Besides the political awareness, one of my favorite aspects of Pride is to see the newbies come alive with happiness and joy! They can finally be themselves, even if only for the day. Some folks cannot be themselves in their daily lives for whatever reasons, but for that one day, they can stand tall and proud. I really love to see their smiles and energy–their spirits really do come alive!

Prides also are a good time to see old friends who you may see only once a year and it’s great to catch up with them. After all, they are part of your family. Yes, a huge sense of family is in the air at Prides too.

I really believe that Prides help us stick together as a big family and keep us informed politically.

*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is retired from 3M and has three children and two grandchildren.

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