This year, I was lucky enough to attend the 2019 Pittsburgh Pride Parade and witnessed the most joy being celebrated and shared that I’ve seen in a very long time. It was beautiful to see the many ways to be a person and the many ways to share love. I was really proud to see Pittsburgh’s Mayor Peduto and other PA elected representatives taking part as well.
Amidst the unfurling joy of Pride month, some people asked why we even need a Pride Parade. Why can’t we all just be ourselves and not try to normalize it? Some even insisted on having a Straight Pride Parade.
Later, I researched the history of Pride. For generations, people were shamed into believing that they were evil or diseased for being different. People were beaten and murdered for being different.
There were (and still are) laws against homosexuality and it was considered immoral and deviant. In 1969 when police raided Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City. Even though this was normal at the time, on June 28, people fought back, leading to what were deemed as the Stonewall “riots”. The small act of courage grew into a movement that spread across the country and the media. On the anniversary of the first uprising, NYC, Los Angeles, and Chicago held organized marches that were the first Pride Parades for people to be seen without feeling ashamed of themselves. Over the years, more cities joined in the Pride movement, slowly increasing visibility and understanding.
However, it’s not enough to let the people of the past do that work for us and be on the right side of things now. As allies we need to be proactive and constantly push the boundaries of our understanding. Discriminatory laws still exist and people are still forced to hide their true selves lest they be attacked for being different.
So why do we need Pride? Because people fear what they don’t understand and they attack what they fear.