Written by Katherine Zheng, Digital Content Writer
On June 15th, 2022, U of T celebrates Pride Month with the annual #DisplayYourPride event. For many people who are part of the LGBTQ community—including myself—Pride is a time of celebration and validity to show our authentic selves and embrace that the hardships we have been through do not erase our identity. Pride is about the continual fight for equality and acceptance for the queer community, but the differences in what pride means to us.
This year the Innovation Hub celebrated on June 10th with their team members to show what pride meant to them and hear some personal reflections. We came together to develop a collage together!
“Pride for me means feeling comfortable and thriving in the best version of myself. The journey to acceptance is a long road, however, it is about taking steps to discover who I am and where I hope to go. I take this time to celebrate the important people that have brought me to today.” – Paul Kaita, Senior Project Assistant
“This is a special month for me – my first ever Pride. Pride to me means being proud of my friends, family, and myself for being our best selves. It’s a feeling I remember experiencing when I entered my first queer space after having come to university – a feeling of comfort and belonging” – Mika Vyas, Community Animation Team Lead
What Does Pride Mean to You?
As I reflect on Pride Month, I struggle to answer my own question: What does pride mean to me? For such a simple word, the emotions that are encapsulated in the word “pride” are anything but.
It’s been six years since my first Pride. I was lucky enough to go to my first Pride Parade with my friend, to openly support and celebrate with one another in a newfound community. In the past six years I haven’t always been out and proud. In many instances it was a struggle to try and figure out who I wanted to be. But what I’ve learned is that being queer is a part of my identity that I love. I know that in the future I will continue to change, just as the queer community does too.
When I think of Pride now, I think about the people that continue to fight for our rights, the people who are struggling to find their identity, the ones celebrating Pride for the first time. Pride is a celebration for our authentic selves, and that there is also joy in being queer.
What Does Pride Month Truly Celebrate?
The first Pride originated with the Stonewall Riots, on June 28, 1969, in New York City, when the long-lasting and tumultuous relationship between the LGBTQ community and the police came to a head when the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, was raided.1 The police harassed patrons, targeted drag queens, and arrested 13 people. While it varies on what exactly incited it, patrons soon fought back against the police, turning it into a full-blown riot, involving hundreds to thousands of people.2 Over the next five nights, hundreds of people continued to gather around Stonewall Inn, fueling the gay rights movement, and bringing attention to their protest.
On the one-year anniversary of the riots on June 28, 1970, thousands of people walked the streets of Manhattan, and became America’s first pride parade.
In the past, Pride has been a rebellion against homophobia, transphobia, and powers of oppression. It has also become a time of parades, festivals, and celebrations. Pride has been many things, but it is still evolving and growing into something new.
Moving Beyond a Single Month
I want to take this space for allies and queer folx alike, to not only celebrate and acknowledge the LGBTQ2SIA+ community that can go beyond a single month but also highlight ways of thinking that support inclusivity and create meaningful change in the community. There is progress that we have yet to make. It’s important that we look at ourselves and our community critically, and how we can grow.
A key part of that is understanding the importance of intersectionality. In its simplest terms, intersectionality is the acknowledgement that all oppression is interconnected. It is an understanding that every person has their own unique experiences with sources of oppression, discrimination, and power – gender, sex, race, class, etc.3 When it comes to the LGBTQ community, the inclusion of POC and BIPOC in the queer community is an issue that is still being fought for. When it comes to all political issues, whether that be feminism, Black Lives Matter, or queer rights, it’s impossible to look at one single issue without seeing how it interconnects with the rest.4 Intersectionality is a crucial part of creating a community because we can only come together when we recognize that our differences also matter.
Pride commemorates the pain and loss within the LGBTQ community, it is a celebration of ourselves and our community, and the growth that we will continue to strive for. I hope that when you celebrate Pride Month, you create a space for transformation and reflection, a space for everyone to be proud of who they are.
1. Grinberg, E. (2019, June 28). How the Stonewall riots inspired today’s Pride celebrations. CNN. Retrieved May 30, 2022, from https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/28/us/1969-stonewall-riots-history/index.html
2. History.com Editors. (2017, May 31). Stonewall Riots. History.com. Retrieved May 30, 2022, from https://www.history.com/topics/gay-rights/the-stonewall-riots
3. Taylor, B. (2020, October 15). Intersectionality 101: What is it and why is it important? Womankind Worldwide. Retrieved May 30, 2022, from https://www.womankind.org.uk/intersectionality-101-what-is-it-and-why-is-it-important/#:~:text=Intersectionality%20is%20the%20acknowledgement%20that,orientation%2C%20physical%20ability%2C%20etc.
4. Pannu, K. (2017, August 14). Privilege, Power, and Pride: Intersectionality within the LGBT community. Impakter. Retrieved May 30, 2022, from https://impakter.com/privilege-power-and-pride-intersectionality-within-the-lgbt-community/
What celebrating Pride means:
Information about Stonewall, historical context, and its legacy:
Information on Intersectionality:
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