As the length of the acronym suggests, the LGTBQIA+ (henceforth, queer) community contains a broad array of lived and historical experiences that cause them and their loved ones, allies, and the world at large to view Pride Month as an emotional whirlwind. Some events will celebrate community leaders and organizations (including some of our own outstanding clients) who have secured legal victories and done direct community service. Other ceremonies will honor and respect historical victims of generations of hate crimes and failed public policy and those who still continue to suffer worldwide for no reason other than being outed in the wrong geographic area. There’s so very, very much to unpack.
In the U.S. alone, most adults have lived through a time when our government went from deadly silence on a virus that decimated the queer population, and now see a wealth of community centers readily fund treatment for the same, now-manageable virus. Almost all of us who had seen repeated violence toward gender non-conforming peers in our childhood years now can readily name high-profile trans and non-binary legislators, actors, and other public figures. We’ve gone from every female coworker being presumed to have a husband at home to comfortably communicating our pronouns and learning better-fitting gender-neutral forms of many outdated words.
Despite the forward movement, there continue to be setbacks. The Windsor legal victory seemed monumental at the time, but we continue to fight just to keep trans people—and especially women of color among that group—from being murdered at an alarming rate. No amount of positive representation in the media can mollify the fact that trans youth are repeatedly used in the U.S. as a political rallying cry through humiliating legislation restricting their access to restrooms and school activities. And all of these U.S.-focused anecdotes in no way offset the horrific and legally permissible daily violence against queer individuals and communities worldwide.
The concept of diversity under the queer community’s umbrella has changed at a breakneck pace, both due to activism from within and outside of it. Many organizations have begun acknowledging their own shared problematic history of excluding women and persons of color from queer political leadership. Popular culture went from the “Will and Grace” model of diversity to acknowledging and including more non-white, non-cisgender, non-gay identities in art, though much more work remains.
In short, Pride Month is overwhelming, and that’s okay. A remarkably diverse community has so much appreciation, fear, love, justifiable anger, determination, and exhaustion to process. Whether you celebrate as a queer person or an ally who is working to self-educate, embrace the complexity. Our shared and diverse histories are complicated yet full of heroes, and our futures will be, too.