It's 2020, we have equal marriage, LGBTQ+ people can adopt, why are Pride marches and celebrations still a thing? This year Pride month and Pride events took place virtually due to the global pandemic, but their existence is as vitally important as it’s always been.
Pride as protest
Pride began as a protest, and it remains political today. The Stonewall riots in New York City just over 50 years ago sparked the movement. The patrons of the Stonewall Inn had had enough of the police raids, and on the evening of Judy Garland’s funeral (some have made a connection between the two), they decided to fight back. Trans and queer people of colour were key figures in this fight.
Progress has been made in LGBTQ+ rights since 1969 but we still have so much further to go. One example of trans rights being currently under threat: reports that the government is going to scrap proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act which would make it easier for trans people to change the gender on their birth certificates.
A study by Stonewall shows that reported hate crimes against LGBTQ+ (especially trans) people have risen by at least 79% in the last few years. We continue to be underrepresented in the media, marginalised, discriminated against, erased.
Pride as celebration
Pride is a party, of the best kind. More than that, I see Pride as an act of “anti-shame”, a way of rebalancing the scales. Many LGBTQ+ people grow up with some level of shame about their identity, and inbuilt, internalised trans/homo/bi-phobia.
Those strutting unapologetically down Oxford St covered in glitter, feathers, latex, etc. are owning their identity. Out and proud. The crowds cheering them on, waving their rainbow flags are part of it too, sharing the act of celebration, being affirmed themselves (I know I am).
The importance of visibility for a community that was historically (and often still is now) closeted, hidden and shamed cannot be underestimated.