By Allison Fine Taylor
When you think of the term “Pride,” what comes to mind?
Many people have some sort of reference point for the term in relation to the LQBTQIA+ community and it is often associated with the month of June. Fewer people recognize the rich history behind Pride Month as the celebration of the civil rights movement for the queer community (and YES, queer is a commonly used “umbrella” term in the LGBTQIA+ community and isn’t just a negative term if used appropriately).
Quick history lesson: On June 28, 1969 police raided the Stonewall Inn, a well-known gay nightclub in Greenwich Village, New York. Same sex relationships were still outlawed at that time and the police were arresting people daily, just for loving who they loved. That night, fed up by the constant harassment and discrimination of the NYPD and led by transgendered activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the club patrons stood up against this persecution and started a riot that led to six days and nights of protests and demonstrations. At some points there were thousands of people involved, taking the NYPD to task, all in the name of being able to live in their truth.
The Stonewall riots were not the beginning of queer activists fighting for their civil rights but it is often seen as a turning point for the community and the first highly politicized event that led to news coverage that sparked a more organized national movement.
What has happened in the 50 years since Stonewall is well documented (if you look for it), with much of the progress happening in large metropolitan cities such as New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a “psychiatric disorder”; in 1977 Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco board of Supervisors, the first openly gay man to do so and a year later he was murdered because of it; the 1980s were filled with the AIDS epidemic with most casualties being gay men, and in 2015 the United States Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage would be legal in all 50 states.
Much work has been done but there is much that lies ahead. There are many states that still do not have laws strong enough to protect from discrimination, especially in the workplace, so while you can marry the one you love this weekend, you can get fired for it on Monday morning.
Through all the ups and downs, the queer community persists. They fight the battles towards total equality in our country (and world, really) but they take time celebrate the wins. Pride Month is so full of joyous parties and festivals and parades that it often spills into other months, such as we see here with Olympia, Burien and Seattle celebrating Pride in June and Tacoma and Kitsap County celebrating in July.
The Pride Flag is a symbol of the blood, sweat and tears of sorrow and joy that the LQBTQIA+ community has earned. Every community should be supportive of flying the flag in a display that they recognize and honor the work done for by a marginalized community. We now see the pride flag flown at the Space Needle, the Capitol Building and the Tacoma Dome as well as many state-owned buildings and city halls in Washington.
Pride is not a political statement; it is a hard-earned social movement and Federal Way would do right by their queer residents by openly showing their support by flying that flag high and proud come June 2020.