June is the month to celebrate, dads, grads, and the end of the school year. It’s also Pride month when gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer celebrate who they are. According to Webster’s Dictionary, pride is a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired. Pride month is a celebration of the sacrifices made by others in the past that made it possible for the LGBTQ community to make strides in society for acceptance and to have the right to live in their truth.
The LGBTQ community and women have had to fight for civil rights to have a voice when it comes to the issues that directly affect them. Healthcare is the biggest issue. When AIDS first began to surface in the early eighties, it was called a gay man’s cancer, and as long as it just affected homosexuals the world seemed ready to ignore it. That wasn’t acceptable. These dying men were fathers, sons, nephews, grandsons, and uncles. These men weren’t extras or throwaways, they were family members, lovers, and partners who needed the world to take AIDS seriously. Activists and organizations staged protests, went to Washington, and held events to make the face of AIDS real. Since then there have been incredible advancements AIDS is no longer an automatic death sentence. People are continuing to live, love, and thrive in spite of it. The community rallied to save and educate its own, and the world is better because of it.
As women, we have a plethora of issues stemming from the times when women were property used by men to move their agenda forward. After the 19th Amendment passed, there was still work to be done, which included the enfranchisement of black women as voters too. Women have gone from being a silent majority to holding the second-highest office in America. Women have organized to run both female and male candidates that speak to the issues of their constituents. Women are owning their power in politics.
Unfortunately, women are still fighting for body autonomy. Although women bear the children and the pain of pregnancy, tubal ligations required a husband’s signature to be performed. Conversely, men can have vasectomies without their wives’ consent. Although the majority of forty and fifty-plus women don’t have to deal with issues regarding pregnancy, they have daughters, nieces, and sisters. They want them to have the right to make decisions about their bodies that will affect their future.
To go a little further into other commonalities, the LGBTQ community wasn’t the only ones in a closet not being their real selves. Or looking in a mirror trying to figure out how to feel good about the image staring back at them. Women have looked to have a placid life of peace on the surface. Meanwhile, there was a riptide pulling underneath it all. Fighting truth is very much like fighting a riptide. The more you struggle, the more likely it is you will drown. However, if you swim parallel to the shore (your truth), you survive with all your strength and a newfound sense of purpose.
As the LGBTQ community and women of a certain age begin to be seen as themselves and not stereotypes, people see the things all of us have in common. We want to be loved, cared for, respected and treated as an equal. That’s just one of the things Pride is all about.
However, Pride is more than just marching in parades. Take the time to learn more. Be kind to everyone. Try to be a place of respite in the storm and a voice for the voiceless. Champion causes that go beyond your backyard. Keep in mind the aphorism ‘a rising tide lifts all boats. When we lift ourselves, others are lifted up as well. follow. So, let’s just remember to live each and every day with pride and no prejudice.