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Beyond the Parade

June 19, 2023

Last year, we wrote a blog post on the importance of recognizing that the modern-day Pride parade began as a march against oppression. We wanted to acknowledge that Pride has never solely been a celebration; it has always been an act of defiance. Unfortunately, with the concerning rise in queer and trans hate over the past year, it has become even more important to recognize that Pride celebrations symbolize the resilience and defiance of queer and trans people.

A Year in Review:

Since the beginning of 2023, over 500 bills targeting the queer community have been introduced across the United States, and 44 have been enacted.[1] The Florida legislature, for example, recently passed a bill allowing trans minors to be taken away from their family if their guardians have allowed them to receive gender affirming care. And although there are no shortage of similar stories in the US, queer hate is not exclusive to America. New Brunswick’s premier and education minister recently revised a policy on queer protections in schools, now allowing teachers to refuse to use a student’s proper pronouns or chosen name. The revised policy also no longer guarantees that students can participate in extracurricular activities, including sports, that are consistent with their gender identity.

These bills reflect a frightening change in societal attitudes, the effect of which can be seen in the actions of both major corporations and individuals. Starbucks has allegedly banned Pride decorations from certain stores, and after receiving bomb threats over Pride merchandise, Target made the decision to pull back certain items in its collection. At Ontario schools, Pride flags have been torn down and thrown into garbage cans, and students have been absent in an effort to boycott Pride celebrations.

The current treatment of queer and trans rights seems to stand in direct opposition to a celebratory parade.

A Path Forward:

Understanding the historical context of Pride empowers us to appreciate its true significance. By acknowledging the ongoing violence and discrimination faced by the queer and trans community, we can begin to recognize the importance of renewing our commitment to fostering inclusivity, supporting advocacy efforts, and educating ourselves and others.

In our blog post last year, we considered whether in addition to celebrating, we should return to the roots of Christopher Street Liberation Day to re-emphasize the inherently political aspect of Pride. Now, the answer is clear.

[1] If you are interested in staying up to date on the progression of anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the United States, the Human Rights Campaign is a great resource.