We quickly forget history, but as the saying goes, history repeats itself. Pride did not start out with rainbows and mom hugs, but started out as a riot in 1969. Police raids on LGBTQ gathering spaces were frequent and violent in the 60’s. At the Stonewall Inn in 1969, LGBTQ people fought back against the brutality they had faced for years from the police, led by a black trans woman, Marsha P. Johnson. The following year, these riots were marked by the first Pride march, which then transformed into the Pride parades you see today.
I share this history as we witness what is happening with our black community members. When a group is pushed to the brink, eventually there will be no more give and it is time to fight back to gain rights, to maintain dignity, and to make life better. When all peaceful actions have gone unnoticed, it is time to make people notice. The Stonewall riots made people notice and helped LGBTQ people start the long fight for equality. A fight that is still going on 50 years later.
We recently received news that the Supreme Court has upheld the 1964 Civil Rights Act which protects LGBTQ people from discrimination in the work place based on sex. Just a week ear
lier, however, we heard news that the current administration reversed protections for transgender people seeking health care. LGBTQ people got the freedom to marry on a federal level in 2015, but the current administration is trying to take the right for LGBTQ couples to adopt children. While we gain equality in one area, we are losing them in another.
As we close this Pride month, let’s celebrate our successes as we have witnessed definite actions taken to allow LGBTQ people the same rights as heterosexual and cisgender people. We also need to recognize that there is still much work to be done. We cannot sit back and celebrate for too long as those who are creating policy are actively working on ways to take away our rights. We need to stay vigilant and continue to put the pressure on until LGBTQ people have all the same rights as heterosexual and cisgender people. We need to continue to occupy public spaces in solidarity, with the rainbows and celebrations, so we are not forgotten. Hopefully we will be able to do that in person soon, but for now, we can be Proud Together even when we are apart. Happy Pride.
Jeni Kolstad MSW, LICSW
South Central MN Pride