By Kyle Edwards, Colleague Experience Manager, Retail COO Colleague Experience & Engagement
It is quite difficult to put into words why Pride was, is and shall remain to be so important. Pride is indeed a period of time (generally the month of June) which on the outside looks like “one big massive gay party.” This isn’t wrong - it is fabulous. However, it is imperative to understand and remember what Pride really represents.
Particularly for LGBTQ+ and non LGBTQ+ individuals of the modern era, it is not always known why Pride is even a thing. And more specifically, why June is the month of Pride. I definitely grew up having no idea why this was the case until I decided to start doing my research. June 28th 1969 marked the official start date of the “Stonewall Riots.” These unplanned, and dare I say brutal, rallies resulted from a police raid within the Stonewall Inn – potentially now one of the world’s most well-known gay bars – with the intention of arresting several LGBTQ+ individuals for congregating at this location. Such an unprecedented act of defiance between the dates of 28th June to July 3rd created and sparked what has been deemed “one of the most important events leading to the gay liberation movement…for LGBT rights in the United States.” I recently watched a fantastic documentary on Netflix called The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson. This is a truly exceptional and insightful piece of art that explored Marsha’s unshakeable story of courage and strength through the period of the riots until her untimely and questionable death years later. I highly recommend anybody to watch this. Very moving.
Pride is, therefore, a consistent reminder of the struggles, anguish, pain, anger, strength and perseverance of our LGBTQ+ ancestors. Pride 2020 denotes the 51st Pride since the “origins” in 1969. Pride has been celebrated and remembered for over half a century and stands as a beacon for advancing LGBTQ+ rights in the modern-day. Even now, there are many countries where existing as an LGBTQ+ individual is a criminal offence and can lead to the death penalty; simply for existing as a human. It is very true that LGBTQ+ rights have severely improved since the days of the Stonewall Riots, but I cannot say with confidence that therefore every LGBTQ+ individual receives the complete level of equal treatment that they deserve. Pride is therefore crucial to continue to advancement of LGBTQ+ agendas and continue to tear down the barriers day by day, year by year.
I identify as an LGBTQ+ member of society. I also highly understand and recognize the privilege I exert as a white cisgender educated male. I am very happy that Pride has been transformed this year to provide so much support for the Black Lives Matter movement. We may not be partying this Pride as we aim to keep 2 metres apart from each other, but the amount of virtual support is immense. I, therefore, urge anybody reading this to spend their time upskilling themselves on both Pride history, virtual Pride celebrations and how Pride is supporting the BLM movement; something close to my heart, Black Trans* Lives Matter.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. If we can break down even a small barrier of ignorance every day, the walls will eventually be broken. Every day is an educational opportunity and I do not claim to know everything. Who can?! But education and knowledge will only stand to support yourselves, your loved ones and all those in dire need of support in the wider world.