June is an important month for the LGBTQ+ community.
For 30 days, we get to celebrate who we are and remember our history.
The gay rights movement as we know it started 50 years ago.
Back then, homosexual acts were considered illegal in most of the United States. Queer bars provided refuge for the community, but employees and patrons were often hassled by police.
On June 28, 1969, officers arrived with force at the Stonewall Inn in New York.
This time, the patrons fought back. A riot began outside of the bar, lasting for the next five days.
Because they chose to take a stand, the community has the rights that we deserve today. But, that doesn’t always protect us from judgement and violence.
Three years ago, a mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Florida left 49 people dead and 53 others injured.
Closer to us, a killer with at least 8 victims stalked Church Street in Toronto.
Just last week, violent protests took place at Hamilton Pride. Thankfully, no one got seriously hurt.
So, why do we risk showing our Pride when we’re more vulnerable to violence?
Also, since we’ve come so far, why is Pride still relevant today?
Those are good questions, but the answers are simple.
Yes, pride is fun, amazing and colourful. But, it’s about so much more.
Without Pride events, we wouldn’t have the chance to celebrate who we are with the people who are most like us.
Without Pride events, we wouldn’t be able to meet so many people like us.
Pride plays a huge role in helping people become more comfortable with themselves.
It shows the people who judge us that they can’t stop us from being out, open and proud of who we are. That they won’t silence us.
Allies attend Pride events to show their support.
Pride reminds us of the issues that still exist for our community. That we still have work to do.
Pride helps shatter the stigmas about the LGBTQ+ community.
Pride shows us and the rest of the public that it’s okay to be a little different.
Lastly, Pride honours our history and the people who fought for our rights and freedom.
I’m fortunate to live in a city where I can be who I am without being afraid.
I hope that one day, everyone will be free to be themselves. I hope that one day, there will be zero judgement, hate or discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community.
Thank you to everyone who has helped make June our month of celebration.