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Why Pride?

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A brief history of pride community events: Recorded pride gatherings date back to 1969, when queer/LGBTQ+ people rioted in response to a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City. Since then, pride celebrations have ranged from designated pride months and pride parades to varying pride weeks at different universities. Saint Louis University’s pride week just wrapped up, and it consisted of a variety of events hosted by Rainbow Alliance, from the Queertillion dance to a poetry slam. As demonstrated by SLU’s queer community, pride events and gatherings consist of LGBTQ+ people and allies joining in community to celebrate their queerness and make themselves visible in their fight for queer justice — full equity and freedom to live and love as we are in our heteronormative and cisnormative society.

As a queer person, I’ve heard pretty much everything under the sun stated about Pride Week by straight people. A common statement is that, while these people are “okay with gay people,” they simply “don’t understand the need to flaunt sexuality,” which is, according to them, “something that is no one’s business anyway.” Another common question that absolutely blows my mind is, “Where’s my straight pride parade?”

A brief response to these real statements made and questions asked: I certainly would like to challenge straight and cisgender people to introspect on their identities, and how, though they may feel they do not “flaunt” their straightness, they can and they do. Heterosexuality is obviously the norm in society, and as a result, it is most definitely overtly expressed in advertisements, movies, television shows, songs, books, and the internet—all of which reflect the straight, cisgender experience. More problematic are policies and laws that systematically disadvantage non-straight and trans folk. Also, being “okay with” queer and trans folk is not expressing discomfort in response to our celebrations of our identities. Finally, straight pride parades happen every single day—as you walk around, holding your significant others’ hands, kiss them goodbye without looking around to lock eyes with people that are glaring at you, are taken seriously as a couple with your significant other whether it be at a formal event or out at a dinner date, and finally, as you exist as you are without having to explain yourself and your identity to others as though you owe it to them.

Not convinced we need space to be recognized and celebrated? These issues are real and systemic, and they’re more than just avoiding condescending gazes. While there has been progress in the pursuit of queer justice in the United States, most notably the Supreme Court ruling to allow same-sex marriage, there are many injustices that prevail and limit members of the LGBTQ+ community day in and day out. For example, Missouri is one of many states that do not offer workplace protections for queer employees.I think a lot of straight, cisgender people have decided that pursuing information about marginalized communities such as the queer community, is not a priority for them. It is easy, with this privileged lens, to make assumptions about the queer community and their need to “flaunt” their identities. However, the reality is that we’re out here to be resilient and to fight, in a world where we truly do not have any other choice.

So why pride? Pride because pride is community, and it’s truly the only designated time to proudly own our identities, as opposed to feeling ashamed of them. It’s a time for us to feel not only safe and accepted, but truly celebrated by ourselves and others in a world that constantly rejects and criticizes our existence and plays pinball with our rights. It’s recognition of our struggles, our progress, and the milestones that we have yet to overcome. In a world that tells us that we should not be proud, our pride is our resilience.

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Why Pride?