In a time of fear and discrimination, the LGBTQ+ community are proud to celebrate

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2020 has thrown an unimaginable number of bombshells – it is a year that many already would rather forget. It has also been a year however in which people have woken up – Covid-19 has forced many to address what they truly value in life; the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has brought the importance of discrimination and privilege based on race back to the forefront; the bush fires in Australia prompted many to criticise global powers for exploiting the natural world.

These large global events, among others, have led to some questioning the necessity of Pride in 2020. They argue that celebrations should take a backseat as the focus should be on more important matters that have become prevalent this year. But this could not be further from reality – Pride is as necessary now as ever.

2020 marks 50 years since the first Pride parade in 1970

The history of Pride necessitates the festival in itself; initial Pride riots in June 1969 came after police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village – rioters then held a series of demonstrations to protest and called for safe places LGBTQ+ people could gather without fear of police persecution. Acting as a catalyst, the riots were a wake-up call for many members of the community across the Western world. The current month of Pride is a chance for them to gather and celebrate those who started the movement and the rights achieved since.

2020 lends itself nicely to Pride in this instance – it has been a year of protest and justified anger and Pride will therefore be back in full (online) force this June. Benjamin Thompson, a member of the Durham LGBTQ+ community, takes the view that “while the pandemic and BLM can perhaps distract from Pride month…I think BLM gives us an important opportunity to discuss how Black members of the LGBT+ community are forgotten, despite this movement starting with them.” Hastings Riley, also a member of the Durham LGBTQ+ community, added that “I think the pandemic has been used by a lot of people to justify oppressive views, particularly in light of the BLM protests.” This demonstrates the necessity of Pride in both highlighting and providing an escape from discrimination faced by the LGBTQ+ community.

The need for Pride remains clear due to the daily discrimination many members of the community still face.

This view has been mirrored in recent media: an open letter was signed by more than 100 LGBTQ+ and civil rights groups stating that “The LGBTQ community knows about the work of resisting police brutality and violence. We celebrate June as Pride Month because it commemorates, in part, our resisting police harassment and brutality at Stonewall in New York City.” Sarah Kate Ellis, president of LGBTQ+ advocacy group GLAAD added, “We’ll be centring and lifting up the voices of queer people of colour, whose struggles are shared by the entire LGBTQ community.”

2020 marks 50 years since the first Pride parade in 1970 and for many involved, this year feels like a great achievement due to the rights gained since the movement started. However, the need for Pride remains clear due to daily the discrimination many members of the community still face. JK Rowling’s recent comments epitomise this; Mr Thompson commented that “the recent statements from JK Rowling have highlighted that we still have a long way to go in terms of transphobia. Trans women are still seen as predatory and separate from cis women.”

This Pride month will be like nothing experienced before…However, this will not dull the spirit of Pride

Pride is clearly a necessary tradition: LGBTQ+ community members still struggle, and Pride is a good reminder that they are not alone – they have a support network. In 28 states in the US, you can still legally be fined for being LGBTQ+, while the Trump administration consistently attacks trans rights. Mr Riley states that Pride is “not just about affecting society on a structural level, it’s about celebrating and normalising a stigmatised group of people…it gives a sense of belonging to people who are struggling to accept their sexuality.”

This Pride month will be like nothing experienced before for the LGBTQ+ community, with many celebrations being held online due to Covid-19. However, this will not dull the spirit of Pride – members of the LGBTQ+ community use this month to recognise how far we have come as societies, while also showing support for countries that do not have the same rights as the Western world. Pride is necessary in 2020, just as it has been for years before and will be for years to come.

Image: Mercedes Mehling via Unsplash.

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