Photo Credit: ronÃª ferreira
5 Important Things To Remember This 2021 Pride Season
The New York City Pride Parade is typically one of the most festive of the summer, attracting millions of spectators, and characterized by colorful floats, heart-pumping music, and rainbow flags galore. Each borough celebrates Pride in its own way, but Manhattan goes above and beyond to mark what is effectively a massive street party.
Who could forget 2019, when New York hosted World Pride, which coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots? It was nothing short of spectacular, not to mention emotional at times.
But Pride 2021 is bound to feel different, evident by the theme selected: “The Fight Continues.”
According to NYC Pride coordinators, this is a nod to “the multitude of battles we’ve been fighting, from COVID-19 to police brutality, economic challenges to the alarming murder rate for transgender people of color.”
In accordance with CDC guidelines, the main parade in Manhattan will “have both in person and virtual events,” presumably to cut down on the amount of people in one place.
As we kick off Pride 2021, here are some important things to keep in mind:
Straight Folks, You Don’t Have To Sit This Out, But….
Let’s state this clearly for the record. There’s nothing wrong with straight people joining in the festivities. After this tumultuous year, who isn’t chomping at the bit to dance their cares away? As crucial as allies are to the advancement of just about any social justice movement, please remember that you are not the focus, and that you should defer to those in the LGBT+ community. Uplift your gay friends and offer them the stage, rather than hog the microphone for yourself. As a straight person, you’ll never know what it is to be persecuted for being straight, so please remember that.
Pride Wasn’t Always a Party
The roots of Pride are steeped in struggle, and the Stonewall Riots were key to the modern Gay Rights Movement. According to CNN, the Stonewall Inn in Lower Manhattan “opened as a gay club in 1967, and while it wasn’t the nicest, it provided a space for patrons to dance.”
Ongoing harassment by police eventually reached fever pitch, resulting in a historic clash in 1969 that lasted several days. In June 1970, people congregated for the Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day March, which was less festive and more activism oriented.
To Come Out Of The Closet Or Not Is A Personal Decision
A person’s sexuality isn’t for you to share without their knowledge and consent. Not everybody is fortunate enough to have support, and if a person is in the closet, there’s a reason. Being openly gay can portend disaster. If you think that’s hyperbole, consider that homosexuality is illegal, and even punishable by death in some countries.
Remember that the 2016 massacre at Pulse, a gay nightclub, is still one of the worst mass shootings in modern American history. Think of those who come from very intolerant households and communities. Perhaps the only time outing somebody can be justified, is if the person is a hypocrite with power. Why should a politician be able to have same-sex dalliances in peace, while publicly advocating legislation that hurts gay people?
Yes, Pronouns and Names Matter
Would you want somebody to call you something other than your name, or use pronouns which don’t apply to you? Probably not. A reasonable person will forgive you for making mistakes. But if you are deliberately using the wrong pronouns or dead naming somebody, that’s coming from a place of malice. The very least you can do for another person is address them as they have asked. You might not fully understand why their identity is what it is, or why it changed from how you knew it before. But that doesn’t matter because it isn’t your life.
Not all LGBT+ people trust police (and that’s understandable)
The reason for this should be obvious, especially as it relates to Black and brown members of the LGBT+ community. Countering the very real fear of police with “not all cops are bad,” is dismissive and unhelpful. Even if you can’t relate to that fear yourself, at least try to understand why others are afraid, and listen to them with a open heart.
Further to this, NYC Pride announced there won’t be uniformed police as exhibitors this year, and offered the following explanation:
“We seek to create safer spaces at a time when violence against marginalized groups, specifically Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and trans communities continues to escalate. The sense of safety that law enforcement is meant to provide can instead be threatening, and at times dangerous, to those in our community who are most often targeted with excessive force and/or without reason. NYC Pride is unwilling to contribute in any way to creating an atmosphere of fear or harm for members of the community.”