As Pride Month comes to a close, I’ve been reflecting on the last month of rainbows and history and coming out stories. June is considered LGBT+ Pride Month because of the riots at the Stonewall Inn in 1969, but I’ve began to wonder if the month is still really for us. I know many people in the community have felt stifled by corporations that have hypocritically adopted the pride flag this month for advertisements, by the presence of cops at festivals, and by arguments about intersectionality and inclusivity. June has become a month about education and “acceptance,” but I know I’m not the only one that has just been left tired from all of this.
Here is the crux for me: I’m queer all the time, all day, every day. I am always having to explain to people different labels, why it’s not okay to misgender someone just because they are disrespectful, why a lesbian seeking trans boyfriends is transphobic, why we need more representation in media, et cetera, ad nauseum. That means that I’ve just been bombarded for the last few weeks, sometimes with the positivity of friends coming out for the first time or reaffirming their identity, but also sometimes with negativity and questioning and the suspiciously sweet supportive posts from allies. It’s my regular life, except increasingly more colorful and exhausting. Most people enjoy Pride month because of the celebrations, but I didn’t get to go, and I’m not even sure I could handle that many people in one place. I’m ready to go back to regular ol’ “straight people months” so I can be proud on my own terms.
I did learn, however, that the National Park Services did a LGBTQ Heritage Theme Study, which is somewhere around 1,200 pages and has 32 chapters. It is a great resource for anything from general knowledge to specific research, because everything is well-sourced. It’s a good alternative to finding queer history through Wikipedia. I am excited to learn about people and communities that I didn’t know before; it always makes me feel a little closer to the ones I care so much for now.
There has also been a lot of controversy about a version of the flag that included brown and black sections to help represent people of color that are often excluded in the community. I think the stripes do their job, and I don’t feel like I’m being excluded from anything. Especially in context with Stonewall (or more recent history, the Pulse shooting), people should be reminded that queers aren’t overwhelmingly white. Black trans women are consistently in the most danger compared to any other demographic of LGBT+ people, and a lot of people seem unaware or apathetic to that. Like when lesbians during the feminist movement wanted to address problems within their organization, people of color are called divisive when they want to talk about racism within an already marginalized group of people. The dismissing of one set of problems that a person faces over another set is why intersectionality is so important. And while I do like that flag, I personally prefer this one:
But that’s the thing. These issues aren’t like magazines: one month and then something else comes along. These problems are part of lifelong discussions and learning experiences that we all should have, and while it is super important to have a month where people feel like they’re allowed to talk about it and celebrate it, we don’t just turn off our identities when the 30 days comes to an end. Instead, I encourage you to keep talking, keep supporting your friends, and keep being proud, no matter what month it is.