Why Pride Month Is A Time For Celebration, Liberation, and Reflection

Written by Jacqueline Torto
Edited by Makisha Noël 
Graphic by  Brandon Castelo
June 25, 2020

These are a few words that come to mind whenever most people think of PRIDE month. The world comes together to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. Most people tend to observe this colorful moment by engaging in various festivities all around the world. This celebration is not only limited to people; Brands and organizations also make it a point to show their support by incorporating the rainbow colors into their logos, other brand designs, and products.

Yes, it's that big of a deal!

Yes! Pride Month should be celebrated. I think that the Stonewall Uprising that took place in June 1869 should be honored. However, I believe that Pride Month should be celebrated when every single person in the community is truly free.

What do I mean by that?

I think we still have a long way to go when it comes to embracing the intersectionality that exists within the community. We need to shed light on the fact that the community erases the existence of Black and other queer people of color (QPOC). It is extremely important to us that the LGBTQ+ community recognizes our different experiences and the obstacles and struggles that come with them.  My experience as a queer black woman comes with obstacles that might sound foreign to a cis-heterosexual gay man. The same way the experience of a queer trans woman of color would look different to a white asexual woman.

We don’t have the same stories, and it's time the community acknowledges the fact that there are various barriers like racism, transphobia, and xenophobia within the community. The entire LGBTQ + community needs to put on its equity lens because it’s time for everyone to be seen. I think this is really fucked up considering the fact that the Stonewall Riot which is the reason why Pride Month exists was led by Marsha P. Johnson, a black transgender woman. It feels like we, the black LGBTQ+, have been kicked out of our own homes, but hey, what is new?

We asked our team whether the LGBTQ+ community embraces intersectionality. Brandon Castelo, a member of AfterNoon’s art direction team mentions that “As a whole, the community does not embrace intersectionality despite it being the essence of the community”. Rasheed Owens, brand manager at AfterNoon, points out the fact that he does not feel supported by the community as a whole. So I went on to ask him how not having that sense of belonging made him feel. “Invisible.” He answered, “Like my issues don’t matter, my intersectionality doesn’t matter, because when white folks talk about gay rights all they talk about is [white] gay rights.” It is time to put an end to the nonsense.

What can we do about this?

Well, we need to start from the root.

Unlearning racism and other forms of hatred that has been feeding this system for long. Rasheed also went on to talk about the fact that pieces of the conversation are left out on purpose because of racism. I believe that the media is one of the shovels that can be used to uproot this tree of misrepresentation.

Mainstream media currently does a horrible job when it comes to reflecting the society that we live in - it tells half-truths and inaccurate stories. That must come to an end soon because it is doing so much harm not just in our society but also in our minds. I remember wondering if something was wrong with me because I was not seeing people who looked like me when I turned on the TV or looked at Billboards on my way to church. I know that I am not alone.

It is time for the community to open its doors to everyone. I want to be able to finally call the community my community. But hey, if the door can’t be opened, it might be time for us to build our own house our own community. I mean, we are already doing that anyway but it might be time to make it official. The support that exists within black LGBTQ+ and QPOC communities is strong enough to stand on its own.  We are sick and tired of feeling like we don’t belong in a place that is meant to be our home - our safe space.

The little girl in me is ready to see someone I can relate to when I turn on my TV.  The little girl in me is ready to finally feel at home within a community that celebrates all of me. We have to do better - it is time to do better. I dream of a world where every single person within the community feels represented and seen. I dream of a world where intersectionality is truly embraced. Not just within the LGBTQ+ community but all over - but for now Happy Pride.