It's June, which means Pride Month is officially upon us. But, like Christmas, doesn't it seem like the festivities start just a little bit earlier every year? We can barely make it past Mother’s Day these days before the pride frames are busted out on social media and corporations begin wrapping their logos in rainbow hues.
The shows of support are, of course, a promising sign of how far we've come. It wasn’t that long ago that it would have been inconceivable to see politicians and businesses tripping over themselves in shows of support for the LGBTQ community. But particularly after the year we’ve just had, it may be time to ask for more from our allies — and ourselves — than to post a couple of #LoveIsLove selfies each June.
Last year brought a long overdue racial reckoning following the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, at the hands of police. Within the queer community, we were asked to take stock, finally, of the needs and experiences of the most marginalized among us — queer, trans and gender nonconforming people of color, who face disproportionately higher rates of violence, discrimination, harassment and death than white cis-gender queer people. In response, we inserted some new colors in our pride flag to represent Black, Brown and trans people in our community. But here we are, a year later, and 2021 is already on track to be the deadliest year on record for trans people.
An emboldened rightwing in the country is also pushing dozens of pieces of legislation in statehouses across the country — which has already made 2021 the worst year in recent history for the introduction of anti-LGBTQ bills. Many of these cruelly target trans girls in particular, by banning their participation in sports. Others permit everyone from business owners to doctors to refuse to work with LGBTQ people on the basis of religious objection.
Our families, too, are also increasingly caught in the crosshairs of religious conservatives — already, 11 states have passed bills to permit child welfare agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ foster and adoptive parents, and more may soon follow suit. This past fall, the Supreme Court, with its newly minted 6-3 conservative majority, heard a case — that will be decided this June during Pride Month —that may make it constitutionally permissible to allow this form of discrimination against LGBTQ parents.
I don’t mean to be such a Debbie Downer. By all means, celebrate Pride this month. Blast Gaga's "Born This Way" and douse yourself in glitter. (Which is, of course, the officially sanctioned way to celebrate Pride.) It’s important for us as queer people, despite, and even because of, the challenges we've faced this year, to have fun and honor how far we’ve come as a community in shows of visibility. And It’s arguably all the more important for those of us who are parents to demonstrate, through our Pride celebrations, what radical and unapologetic self-acceptance looks like to our kids.
But before you buy the Pride shirt from your favorite clothing store, or applaud a corporation for its snazzy show of support on Instagram, maybe also stop to wonder: do they have parental leave policies inclusive of LGBTQ people, and the ways we form our families? Are they doing all they can to promote a welcoming environment for LGBTQ workers? Are they fighting anti-LGBTQ legislation proposed in the states where they’re headquartered?
Here at GWK, we'll be celebrating Pride like we always do — with touching guest essays, round-ups of family friendly events, and, of course, our bread and butter: adorable photo essays of gay, bi and trans men and their kids in full Pride regalia. We’re also thrilled this year to launch our first ever GWK Heroes Program — honoring those in our community who are going above and beyond in support of LGBTQ people and families. Hopefully we'll even be inspired by our nominees, and ask just a bit more of ourselves and our allies this Pride Month — by donating time or resources to these LGBTQ organizations working on behalf of queer families, maybe, or becoming more involved with local LGBTQ centers.
Let’s go to our parades and family-friendly Pride events this year (whether they be virtual or in person). Let’s live it up — we deserve it. But this past year should also be a stark reminder of just how fragile progress can be. Our gains were hard fought for and they need to be protected. And they don't yet benefit everyone in the LGBTQ community equally. So by all means, let's celebrate this Pride Month. But while we do so let's also remember: if we don’t fight for our community and families — and push our allies to do the same — who will?