Pride Month: I’m Back Where I Started…
Whew, where do we start?
This has been the longest, non-celebratory Pride month that I can remember. When we started this month, I felt conflicted. How could I celebrate my LGBTQ+ side when the deaths of Black men and women were making headlines across the news? For a majority of the month, we spent our time marching and protesting the death of George Floyd. At the same time, a number of Black Trans lives were also lost. Slowly, I started to see a rise in social media support of Black Trans lives. This is when I noticed my two worlds (Black & LGBTQ+) collide. This started to give me hope.
For the first time, in my lifetime, it felt like the Black community really started to support Black LGBTQ+ people.
For me, Pride month is usually this grand celebration! We have rainbow and bright-colored parades in just about every city, globally. Almost every company creates rainbow colored pride gear for purchase, they change their brand logos on social media to reflect the rainbow, and there becomes a sense of community. I always felt that during this time of year, people could just let their hair down and embrace their full self, when the world often asks you to hide it.
Normally, I find myself purchasing just about every piece of pride apparel sold by companies I support, but this year… NOTHING! There are a couple of reasons why I didn’t support this year: 1. It didn’t feel like a time to celebrate; 2. It didn’t seem like many companies were promoting their pride gear because of what was happening around the nation; and 3. It felt like we were being attacked by the federal government.
Then, on Monday, June 15th, I woke up with an anxious feeling, like I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. For many of us in the LGBTQ+ community, we collectively waited for the Supreme Court ruling on whether discrimination in the workplace was legal or illegal. When the breaking news happened, my coworker texted me saying, “I know there’s not a lot to celebrate right now, but a huge decision by the Supreme Court. Feels like a breath of fresh air.” I was sitting in a meeting, virtually, of course, when I read his text and immediately headed over to a news media outlet to see what they were reporting.
Reading the headline, I released a deep sigh of relief. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy. But, on the flip side, I was mad. I immediately sent out a tweet that said, “The right decision was made today… I am glad that I don’t have to look over my shoulder every day wondering if I will get fired because I am a lesbian. The sad part is, I should have never had to worry about this in the first place. This is supposed to be the land of the free!”
Now, I realize that the Supreme Court makes rulings all the time and they don’t get to decide which cases come up and when, but I can’t help but think about the magnitude of this ruling in the middle of Pride month.
As we approached the end of June, I was starting to feel uplifted. A friend of mine asked me to speak with student-athletes at her institution about how LGBTQ+, Race, and Sports connect. The student-athletes came ready to connect on how they could be better allies to their peers. As I often tell people, I am an open book and willing to answer all questions. These student-athletes took me up on that and I spent about 30 minutes answering all their questions, which might I add, were asked with intent to move their community forward. It gave me hope that the generation behind us is going to change the world!
Two days ago, I realized we were celebrating the 50th anniversary of America’s first gay pride parade. (Sidebar: If you don’t know the history of the Stonewall Riots and Marsha P. Johnson, please go do some homework when you finish reading this blog.) I understood that in the middle of a pandemic, there weren’t going to be any grand parades. Yet, our New York City family took to the streets in a small way. While looking at the videos, I was hopeful that we could rise up regardless of the situations placed in front of us. But, June 2020 wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t see peaceful marchers being met with aggressive police officers.
So as we wrap up Pride month 2020, I’m back to where I started the month… ANGRY & DISAPPOINTED! Angry because we have institutions that preach inclusivity and have done nothing to support their LGBTQ+ constituents. Disappointed because people don’t seem to understand how to support multiple communities at the same time.
Moving forward, I’ll leave you with one piece of advice: if you preach inclusivity, BE ABOUT IT. People are paying attention. Words mean nothing, I’m solely watching your action!