June is Pride Month...
In 1969 the seeds behind pride month were planted, this year marked the 40th anniversary of the birth of pride and was also important to me because of what happened to me since last year. Pride is not just about the parties, it is so much more. Pride is about equality, it is about our fight for our rights, our fight to be able to get married, our fight to be treated the same as any other human being, and our right to live our lives without fearing for our safety.
June was officially named gay pride month in the year 2000 by former President Bill Clinton. June was chosen to honor the Stonewall riots in 1969. The Stonewall riots were the beginning of the gay movement in the United States. In 1969 there was a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan. The police raided the because it was a gay bar. People started rioting after the horrific event and the start of the gay rights movement.
June is supposed to be the month people are welcomed regardless of sexual orientation, although what we are fighting for is to be welcomed every day of the year. While we use this month to host parties and parades to celebrate who we are we also need to use this time to educate and break the stigmas.
What has changed since 1969? While I know that change is something that happens slowly and you can never expect things to change immediately in 40 years we would all hope that we have moved closer to equal rights, yet there is still a great amount of violence against gays, I am not the only person attacked simply because of how I identify myself. As a matter of fact there has been an upswing in violent crimes against gays and lesbians in the past two years. We have Hate Crime laws, but as I learned they aren't always followed by the judges in these cases. And just this past Sunday a bar in Fort Worth Texas was raided and patrons injured by police, and they raided the bar with reasoning very similar to Stonewall. Much has been said about all of these things.
We have a long way to go until we have full equality, and even still people are still going to hate. We have a long way to go until the Doctor and I can get married and have it recognized in all 50 states. We are still waiting for the Matthew Shepherd Hate Crimes Laws to be passed nationally, and even when this is passed we will need judges to uphold these law.
The point of this post is not to whine, and not to preach. My point here is to ask everybody, man or woman, gay or straight... what does pride mean to you... what have you done to make you feel proud, what do you think others should be proud of?
This year I have a lot to be proud of. I am very proud of my friends who are willing to stand up and speak out when they see things that are wrong in this world. I am proud of myself for finding the strength from within myself to stand up and speak out about what happened to me. I am proud of my relationship with the Doctor, and I am proud that one day we will be getting married. I am proud of the fact that our marriage will be recognized in more and more states. I am proud that I can say to reporters that I am a gay man in a real relationship and I will not accept the injustices over the past year.
I am proud of how far I have come in five years, some of my best friends will say that they would have never expected this much. Five years ago I was scared of what people would think. Five years ago I was living up to the prejudices. Now I am stronger, now I accept myself and I expect others to accept me for who I am. I am proud of my community.
We have a very long way to go until we are truly equal, we have a lot of fighting to do and we have a lot of speaking out. Unfortunately there will be more violence, and more injustices. Every day I will do what I can to speak out, to be strong, and to be proud. Look back... what have you done today, this month, this year to make you feel proud!
Take pride in yourself, remember that Pride is not just a month and that Pride month is not just about the parties and parades. Remember we have fought for much, but we must continue fighting!