• Evan McCoy

The Importance of Pride in 2018

Updated: Sep 8, 2018

It’s not just about rainbows. But rainbows are pretty fantastic.

It’s 2018 - or, if you operate in social circles like mine where we love making everything gay, twenty-gay-teen - and the LGBTQ community is doing better than ever. We earned the right to get married in 2015. When national polls are performed, it seems that a majority of people support our right to live equally under the law, in all aspects. In many places, we can walk down the street holding hands without catching anything worse than the occasional second glance.

And yet. Camps and organizations focused on “conversion therapy” for impressionable LGBTQ teens still exist, and are legal in most states. Almost 40% of homeless youth are members of the LGBTQ community, despite the fact that we only represent about 4% of the population as a whole (which is a number that varies, depending on where you look and who you ask). You need only turn on the news to hear about some (typically old, typically white, typically male) politician wanting to introduce a bill to make it legal for businesses to discriminate against us.

Despite all the progress we’ve made, we still have a long way to go.

That’s why Pride Month and annual Pride celebrations in cities across the country (and world) are still so important for our community, even in a world that gets better and better for us each and every day. Despite the progress we have made, it’s still important for us to stand up and speak out for ourselves and our community.

Some of you may be reading this and thinking yes, I agree, but what good does a parade do? I love when the hypothetical thoughts of my readers lead me to my next point. You guys are so helpful.

Pride parades are still so important because they are about visibility and, well, pride. If they didn’t exist, it would be much easier for our community to fade into the subconscious of society, where our movement for equality would go to die. People need to see us, they need to hear us, and they need to know how vocal we are about our need for change.

Obviously, being loud and proud about who we are is never enough to make change. But it gives us a platform to be vocal about the issues plaguing our community, and it makes people pay attention - whether they want to or not. It’s hard to ignore thousands of people marching down the street dressed in various degrees of rainbow attire, laughing and screaming and having a gay ‘ole time. It makes people listen.

In 2018, more than ever before, we also need to remember to speak up and speak out for those who identify differently than we do. We need to remember that we cannot seperate our LGBTQ identities from all of the other identities that make up who we are: our race, our gender, our income level, or any other factor. The fight for LGBTQ equality is tied to the fight for racial equality, the fight for gender equality, the fight for all types of equality. We need to remember that, and we need to be careful not to silence any voices that are telling us we need to be more inclusive.

We need to raise each other up, not put each other down - especially in a world full of people who want to put us all down.

Aside from all the social and political necessities of Pride, it also just feels… good. Each year, I am blown away by how loved and accepted I feel when I attend a Pride celebration. It’s unlike any feeling I get throughout the rest of the year, no matter the situation. It’s truly life-changing to feel that level of love and acceptance when you typically move through life with a constant sense of trepidation, never knowing how people are going to feel about your identity.

During Pride, in that moment, on that day - you feel infinite.

I want that feeling for young LGBTQ people. I want that feeling for older LGBTQ people who just came out, or for closeted LGBTQ people who need a little more encouragement before they feel secure enough to live authentically in a world that seeks to tear them down. That’s what Pride accomplishes - it creates a sense of home for a community that often feels adrift.

So, yes - even though we’ve come a long way and some of us can live pretty wonderful lives while celebrating our queer identities, we still need Pride month. We still need Pride celebrations. And we still need to keep fighting. For everyone.

Take a breath. Look around. Soak it in. Pride only comes around once a year. Enjoy it.

This post was brought to you by Hymn by Kesha, because it’s an anthem about inclusion for those of us who sometimes feel like we don’t have a place in this world.

PS - If you like what you see, feel free to click here to subscribe to my posts. If you’re not ready for that type of commitment, start by following me on social (Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook). Wishing you all the best.

rainbow flag waving at lgbt pride parade

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