By: SJ Jany
As we near November 5 and the start of Mac’s annual Pride Week, you might have some questions about Pride. What is it exactly? When did it start? Isn’t it supposed to be in the summer? Do I really have to smother my entire body in glitter? All important questions.
Pride is usually held in the summer (specifically towards the end of June). This isn’t just because of the sunny weather; there is a more serious history behind the celebration of Pride. In June of 1969, members of the New York City gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans* plus (LGBT+) community engaged in a series of riots protesting police raids of the Stonewall Inn (a popular bar amongst members of the queer and trans* community) as well as general mistreatment of gender and sexual minorities throughout America.
The following year, a march through New York City known as the ‘Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day’ march was held to commemorate the riots and to increase visibility of gender and sexual minority groups. Since the Stonewall riots continue to be regarded as a crucial moment in the queer and trans* rights movements, this tradition of a yearly march has stuck. Throughout the world, Pride parades, marches, demonstrations, etc. are held at the end of June each year. Mac’s Pride is held in November simply due to scheduling issues; it wouldn’t be much fun to celebrate Pride when most students are home for the summer!
Now that we’ve looked at a super-brief history of Pride, you might still have some questions about why we continue to celebrate it. These aren’t easy questions to answer, since people have all sorts of different reasons for celebrating Pride. For some, Pride offers a chance to remember the sacrifices made by queer and trans* rights activists that enable us to live in a safer and more welcoming society. For others, it is an opportunity to celebrate identities which are still frowned upon by many in our society. Still others feel that Pride is a time to increase visibility and engage in activism. And some people are just looking for a fantastic party (glitter recommended, but not required)!
There are some people who feel that Pride is no longer needed. People see the advances we’ve made toward a more inclusive society and feel that our work is done. However, while awesome, the legalization of same sex marriage in Canada, prohibition of discrimination against trans* people in Ontario, etc. are not the end of the road. Members of the Canadian queer and trans* communities still face oppression and obstacles in daily life. As long as 73 per cent of Canadian LGBTQ+ youth report feeling unsafe at school and 18 per cent of trans* Ontarians are turned down for jobs because of their gender identity, we’ve still got a long way to go.