Pride Month brings a lot of attention to the LGBTQIA community, both positive and negative. Yet, during June the portrayal of this marginalized community looks less diverse than we would expect. Why is that? To find an answer, we have to go back to the history of Pride Month.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, Pride Month began in 1970, “one year after the famous Stonewall Riots in New York’s Greenwich Village. The riots, which spanned three days, were some of the most prominent examples of LGBT people resisting police discrimination. It was a watershed moment in LGBT history – it is often credited as the start of the modern gay liberation movement, which later expanded into the broader LGBT rights movement. Since Stonewall, Pride has seen a number of changes and transformations. Originally, Pride was solely a political demonstration to voice LGBT demands for equal rights and protections. More and more parades and demonstrations appeared in New York and across the U.S., including parades by Parents For Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) during the AIDS epidemic. It was not until 1991 that Pride began to resemble what it is today: a celebration of queer life and sexuality in addition to a political and social demonstration." The last line from HRC is important because the Pride that most people are familiar with has a celebration in addition to political activism.
Although overall conditions and policy are kinder and more equal to the LGBTQIA community, there is still more work to do. Dictionary.com defines intersectional feminism as "a movement recognizing that barriers to gender equality vary according to other aspects of a woman’s identity, including age, race, ethnicity, class, and religion, and striving to address a diverse spectrum of women’s issues". This type of feminism, created by lawyer and civil rights advocate Kimberlé Crenshaw, is intended to address a wider scope of issues that she felt were being ignored. This form of feminism has since been adopted by more marginalized members of the community.
So, is Pride Month intersectional? Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera are two of the well-known names associated with Stonewall, yet even today the public is not quite sure how it started. And perhaps the secrecy behind Stonewall gives us an indication of how radical the riots were. While we still struggle to secure rights and resources for the LGBTQIA community, it was far more dangerous back in 1969. The beginning of Pride Month was a movement, with a collective of people who hoped for a better world for their community. Today, we see companies change their logos to have rainbow backgrounds and add Pride merchandise as soon as June starts. And while this can be a valid way to support the LGBTQIA community, it can also be a quick way to make a profit off marginalized people they have no interest in supporting. If Pride Month becomes commercialized, that might confuse its intent. Pride Month is a celebration of life and love despite what the world may do or think. When people within the LGBTQIA community love themselves and others out loud it’s powerful.