With pride movements, both in North America and all over the world, becoming bigger and more powerful than ever, it seems a fitting time to stop and take a look at what pride actually means.
Pride events originated as a way for communities who were oppressed and shamed out of the mainstream society to come together and be out and open. It was a way to celebrate feelings of pride and self-respect collectively, in societies in which what bonded these communities was prejudice. Historically, to attend one of these movements was an incredibly brave and bold display of a fight for equality that, even now, we haven’t reached the end of. Just attending these marches, during the beginning of the movement, could result in the loss of a job, and even now people choosing to come out and be open risk losing their family or support networks.
Although today homosexuality is more accepted than it was during the 70s, when the first pride marches started, accepting your sexuality and coming out can still be hugely traumatic and challenging. Whilst the gay community has clearly gained a lot of legal ground in many western countries, both in anti-discrimination laws and marriage rights, there is still a long way to go before we have absolute equality. Hate crimes against gay communities are still rampant, discrimination still occurs, our basic rights to marriage are still put to vote, as if equality is something to be decided upon by the general public and suicide and depression, particularly among younger members of the LGBT community are still significantly higher than those who fit into standard gender/sexuality brackets.
The pride movement may have shifted from its original purpose of gaining legal rights but it has not lost importance. Pride serves to empower LGBT communities to get out and wear what society once deemed wrong with pride, it creates a safe place to celebrate everything that we are and have achieved. It tells the world that we are here and we are not going anywhere, it shouts fiercely and fabulously that we are not ashamed of what society would deem ‘abnormal’ and it helps to pave the way for future generations of young non gender/sexuality conforming individuals to be able to fully accept who they are, love themselves and be out and proud.
Nobody gave us any of the rights or societal acceptance that we have today, we took them, with pride.
Pride may have changed over the years, but it has certainly lost no importance.