Why It Matters & Why Should You Care
Society has had a long history of being unkind to the LGBT community, and despite the progress that has been made in recent years, there is a very long way to go. Change happens in gradual progression and it is easy to be fooled by the mainstream media into thinking there the work is done. We look at the evolution of Pride and how it is now commonly associated with the bold, loud, in-your-face parades and maybe we think: “The LGBT community sure know how to throw a damn good party.”
This is actually a big problem when movements become popular and “cool” enough to be used as a platform. In recent years, one of the most common critiques of allies and supposed allies attending major pride events is the opportunistic attitude that is taken. In the face of the glitter, the bright neon-colors, the boundary pushing outfits, the “fun” aspect of pride can quickly overshadow the underlying cause, the “why” of the movement.
One of the key things to note is that for the majority of the LGBT community, acceptance is not a given. It is hard fought and sometimes it is retracted. Yes, there are exceptions. But if you were to stop 10 people at a pride event and ask them whether they are “out” and how that experience was for them, they all have a story. And unfortunately, the sad reality is that it is not always a happy ending.
How many people have been rejected by their own families for simply expressing their identity? How many people have lost opportunities for it? Worst, how many people have been hurt--mentally, emotionally, physically targeted--for being themselves? The dark truths are not always in the spotlight. The creation of safe spaces for minority groups is often born out of necessity, not out of a desire to be trendy or exclusive.
That said, while it is important for individuals and allies alike to acknowledge and support the movement, it is not meant to take away from the celebration. Small steps, small wins, and progress of any sort are all great reasons to celebrate.
Over the years, one of the hallmarks of Pride Month celebrations are the major parades and public events. Bar crawls, drag shows, day parties, and more. It is a time for the community to come together and peacefully advocate for further progressive legislation. It is a time for individuals to be around others “like” them. It is a time to gather support. It is a time to connect. It is a time to be unapologetic in terms of self expression.
Unfortunately, under the current circumstances with stay-at-home orders, social distancing, and coronavirus concerns, the usual means of celebration have taken a backseat for 2020. Major in-person pride events have been cancelled across the board and organizers have quickly pivoted to virtual and digital events instead.
It goes without saying that COVID-19 has heavily impacted countless areas in a few short months. The obvious being the inability to gather in large groups, attend events, and travel. Major festivals and annual events outside of Pride month have all been taken off the board for the year. But while those instances are happening, there is another layer of COVID-19 that is not being discussed as much as it should be.
First, in marginalized communities, individuals are directly impacted financially with major corporations, retail chains, restaurants, small businesses, and so forth being forced to furlough employees, lay off staff, or shut down completely. As the pandemic drags on, more and more businesses are put in a position where their survival is in question. This is not new at this point, now that we are in the third month of facing coronavirus.
How To Celebrate & What To Do
All throughout the month of June, virtual Pride events are being slated to take place in lieu of the normal parades and festivities. Local organizers are hosting online rallies and celebrations. Thought leaders and entertainers are coming together to organize performances and live streamed music sets. Many not-for-profit LGBT organizations are also putting together resources on their websites for any individuals that may be impacted by the current events ranging from mental health support helplines to online chat groups to digital campaigns for activists to congregate.
Celebrations in 2020 will look different for everyone. And that is alright. For some, it will be tuning in to the digital community. For others, it may be a call to action to join the frontlines in solidarity. It is an unprecedented time and in light of everything that is going on, there is a complex range of thoughts and emotions that are spreading. Within the last week, 100+ LGBT civil rights organizations contributed to an open letter in support of #BlackLivesMatter, condemning racism and violence against the Black community.
Progress is made as the result of actions. The pride movement as we know it today, was brought about by the Stonewall riots and became a catalyst for change. Regardless of what you elect to do, there is no right or wrong way to approach Pride Month 2020. What is important to remember in the midst of everything that is going on is that personal mental, emotional, and physical well being is crucial. It is 100% acceptable to prioritize that over anything else.
In acknowledgement of, in celebration of, in recognition of Pride, BLVK Unicorn is hosting a month-long sale on all products from 6/1/20 - 6/30/20. 25% off with promo code: PRIDE.