“What does Pride mean to you?”
June marks Pride month, a time for LGBTQ+ people to celebrate themselves, their resilience, and the community that surrounds them. For me, pride means honoring the LGBTQ+ activists that have come before me as well as celebrating the beauty of living as my authentic self. I was 12 years old when I first came out to myself and 18 when I came out to the world around me. During those years, I felt as if I was the only person to have ever walked that path before. It felt lonely, isolating, and terrifying at times. But I am far from the only person to have experienced this journey. In creating community and in learning about the courageous LGBTQ+ activists that have come before me, I have found enormous pride in my identity. I feel so fortunate to be part of a lineage of brave and brilliant changemakers that have continually pushed to subvert the standards of what is considered “normal” and “right” in society. That’s what transgender activists Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson did on June 28th of 1969 at the Stonewall Inn when they protested police violence against transgender and gender nonconforming individuals. The Stonewalls Riot that happened that day sparked a movement and have become a symbol of resistance for the LGBTQ+ community. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, among others, were catalysts for change that have greatly advanced the LGBTQ+ movement in the U.S. through their tireless work and tenacity. This Pride month, I ask that we all take the time to celebrate the people who came before us – in the movement for LGBTQ+ equality, peace and social justice, and more – because we would not be where we are if they had not been here first.
With Pride, Haley Eakin, JRPC Program Assistant