Pride Month: A celebration of our fight for a safe space – Part 1

Bárbara Lobianco
Bárbara Lobianco June 9, 2021
Pride Month: A celebration of our fight for a safe space – Part 1

The battle for equal rights and the celebration of being yourself.

June is time for an energic celebration. It’s party time, and also to bring so much pride of being who you are. It’s a moment to celebrate all the achievements the LGBTQIA+ community made until now and to energize for the long way we still have forward together.

The truth is, for every person, every letter in this acronym exists one story. Some of them are good, and others not so much, but each of them is part of a long journey with a lot of battle for equal rights, respect, and acceptance.

Far beyond the celebration, LGBTQIA+ proud month – often affectionately called “pride month” – is an inherently political act full of manifestations and attempts to engage political discussions about LGBTQIA+ issues and ideas. The main goal is to reach out to more people to support and welcome those who are part of this community. But beyond this, it’s time to celebrate the story of those who came before us in this fight.

The celebration happens in June not without reason. On June 28th of 1969, the Stonewall Riots – how it became known – marked the LGBTQIA+ community battle forever.

Stonewall Riots: six days of protests

A brick wall, low and dark doors indicated a small entrance, with a big luminous sign that read “Stonewall Inn”. There were still 11 years until relationships between same-sex people became legal in New York. The only state which already recognized this right by the time was Illinois.

Stonewall Inn was a very famous pub and received most LGBTQIA+ people, which was illegal. But the pub had permission to continue open because its owners paid bribes to the police. Despite that, Stonewall didn’t follow most of the legal determinations required at the time and was often searched.

On June 28th of 1969, the police were to the pub to check the validity of the alcohol sales license. Still, they acted with violence when they tried to take drag queens arrested by ‘inappropriate dress’ allegations.

Marsha P. Johnson was one of the drag queens at the bar at that moment and the first to throw one brick of the bar wall into police direction. Sylvia Rivera, a drag queen, and trans woman, initiated the physical confrontation with the cops. A lot of other people did the same until the cops arrested thirteen of them.

After that night, the next six days were marked by LGBTQIA+ protests in New York streets, bringing together people from different backgrounds and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Although the Stonewall Riots wasn’t the very beginning of the LGBTQIA+ fight, it was decisive in calling attention to the cause, generating protests, and inciting debates around the world. Because of this day in 1969, June is the pride month and a moment to celebrate in the LGBTQIA+ community.

Today, the Stonewall Inn is a national monument recognized by the US government since May 2016 – the first one dedicated to LGBTQIA+ people’s rights.

In 2016, New York city publicized the desire to make Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera a monument at the Greenwich Village district. Besides their participation at the Stonewall Riots and as activists for Queer rights, both founded S.T.A.R. – Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries – in 1970. The organization was dedicated to helping homeless LGBTQIA+ people.

The numbers behind the letters LGBTQIA+

Homosexuality, and transgender, are not recent phenomena at all. What’s new is the liberty to talk about this subject and the rights achieved by the activism. But even with so much effort, pain and suffering, it will always be a reason to honor pride month. Every step of this journey echoes the memory of them who fought for this to be possible. And we are talking about many, many steps.

The Sao Paulo’s Pride Parade received more than 3 million people in the streets back in 2019, in New York were more than 2 million, and in Berlin more than 1 million people. The feeling to be part of a community that thinks and feels like you is fantastic, but the truth is that, in many countries around the world, this is not possible yet. More than this, it’s forbidden. We are talking about countries where same-sex relationships are punished with life imprisonment or even the death penalty. In Fiji, the right to maintain a homoaffective relationship was recognized in 2001. In India, only in 2018, and in Bhutan, still in this year, according to Equaldex.

And there is more! Even in countries that are legal to have a same-sex relationship, like Brazil and United States, the discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community is not yet illegal. For example, Brazil is considered the country that more kills LGBTQIA+ people globally, with one death every 23 hours. And the United States doesn’t have legal protection for LGBTQIA+ in the business environment.

During the height of the AIDS epidemic, a disease caused by HIV, it was the homosexual population that was blamed for the crisis. In the US, this disease killed 324.029 men and women between 1987 and 1998.
In the middle ’90s, one in nine gay men had the AIDS diagnostic, and one in fifteen had died. It wasn’t rare that doctors refused to see patients with this disease, afraid of getting it themselves. The impact in the LGBTQIA+ community was, of course, brutal.

Even with all the changes that collective thinking is going through and more significant widespread awareness of the virus, 2019 data show that 64% of the population living with HIV reports had already suffered some form of discrimination and 37% say they are ashamed of having contracted the virus.

Dialogue is the key

Brooklyn, São Paulo, Oslo, Seattle, Los Angeles, and other places worldwide annually organize at June virtual and presential events to debate relevant subjects to the LGBTQIA+ community.
This year, Boston Pride will do a live transmission of “Pride Lights,” an event in honor of those who died from HIV/AIDS – which is the theme for the Pride Parade of São Paulo, with lectures and debates on the prevention and awareness of the virus.

In San Francisco, the pride month organizers assigned two nights for an LGBTQIA+ movie session, an idea used by television channels too.

In Copenhagen, the podcast #YouAreIncluded introduces a lot of discussions about sports, human rights, art, and culture, always related to the LGBTQIA+ community.

Other essential debates like “Galvanizing a Global Movement to End “’Conversion Therapy’” and health, homeless, business, and parenting topics, will be discussed at Seattle Pride events.

Mental health, questions and answers for families with queer members, and even the importance of celebrating pride month are debated topics right now. And those are just a few examples of content being proposed during this month worldwide.