There is so much happening right now. The world is burning before our eyes, and it seems silly to even think about celebrating Pride Month. Why should we try to bring rainbows and face paint into a world full of tear gas and rubber bullets?
But Pride isn’t — and shouldn’t be — something separate from the current protests. Pride is intersectional. Pride means love, respect and equality for all people.
The first pride “parade” originated as a riot. In 1969, people rioted after the police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City where the patrons were primarily queer and gender nonconforming people of color. The riot went on for days, fueled by anger and rage, and spilled into streets all over New York City.
Rage at the police who turned fire hoses on protesters.
Rage at a society that shunned them and then invaded one of their only safe spaces.
Rage at a world where a man wearing a skirt or jewelry was against the law.
There has been a lot of rage this month. It seems like everywhere I turn, I see broken hearts being patched together with bandages made of anger. It seems futile to even begin to suggest the kind of celebration that Pride is associated with — and I’m not going to suggest that.
The world doesn’t need Pride as we know it. It doesn’t need festivals and floats sanctioned by the government. It doesn’t need concert lineups of straight pop celebrities selling VIP passes. It doesn’t need corporations to shower people with rainbow mouthwash in an attempt to pander to queer audiences.
The world needs Pride as it was in 1969 when it was comprised of queer women of color, sex workers and transgender people. The world needs to understand what Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson were fighting for that night in New York when the police infiltrated one of the only gay bars in the city.
The police arrested the patrons and then teargassed those who were resisting arrest, but the protesters didn’t give up. They stood their ground and marched down the streets of New York City because they knew they deserved to be treated equally — that all people deserved to be treated equally.
I’ve never been to a pride parade. I was going to attend the one in Washington, D.C., this summer; obviously, those plans have changed. But that pride is not the pride we need right now. The pride we need is the kind that a pandemic can’t stop or delay, the kind that lives in our souls, hearts and minds.
The pride we need would not exist without the guidance of the civil rights movement and Black transgender women. The pride we celebrate this month goes hand in hand with the protests happening across the country.
The pride we celebrate is a fierce one, a powerful one; a pride that sees all people as one and the same. I am proud of my sexuality and gender identity, but recently, I am not proud of the country I live in. I am not proud of the inequality, of the hatred.
But we do what we can. We love. We grieve. We fight.
The arc of the moral universe is long. It is so, so long.
But it does bend toward justice.
Sydney Miller is a junior psychology major. Reach them at email@example.com.