In June, we celebrate Pride Month. Pride is a time for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ+/SGL) community to come together to remember all those who have come before that fought for liberation and freedom, celebrate all the progress we have made toward equality and acknowledge how much work is still left to be done.
If there’s one thing we do this Pride season, I hope that each of us guard our joy. It is important for Black LGBTQ+/SGL people to celebrate Pride in spite of what our community endured. 2021 has been a hard year for many of us in the Black LGBTQ+/SGL community, physically, mentally and spiritually–that is for those of us who have made it through. From the continued murders of Black trans women, to a recent surge in anti-LGBTQ bills in state legislators, to a global pandemic that continues to disproportionately affect our community, we are fighting on many fronts. In spite of the many challenges we continue to face, we must continue to fight for freedom and snatch joy where we can.
Pride can include celebrating leaders like Lil Nas X, whose song “Montero (Call Me by Your Name),” which explicitly references his sexuality as a gay/same gender loving man, continues to top the global charts and whose new song “Sun Goes Down” explores the loneliness his younger self felt and the discovery of his sexuality; protecting Zaya Wade, a transgender teen who is helping to teach adults about the importance of acceptance and the power of love. Zaya is a shining example of how living, fully, as you are intended to can be transformational for those around you too! Also, worth celebrating is the fact that currently, there are more Black people leading national LGBTQ+ organizations, with major legacy organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, GLSEN, and the National LGBTQ Task Force all being led by Black queer leaders. We also celebrate our sister Nadine Smith, who is one of the longest-serving Executive Directors in the LGBTQ+ movement.
This Pride Month we can honor the Black LGBTQ+/SGL figures who paved the way for the work being done today and those who are still working to make a country where all can live freely and thrive. We celebrate opportunities to learn–to increase competence and compassion. Consider the following, while most people think of Stonewall and those who participated when reflecting on those who paved the way, there are so many others including those who rose up against police harassment at the Cooper’s Do-Nuts Riot ten years prior. In Los Angeles, May 1959, LGBTQ+ patrons of Cooper’s Do-Nuts fought back against police harassment and attempts to arrest customers by throwing coffee, donuts, and cups at the police until they fled. It is considered to be the first gay uprising in modern history and should be celebrated as it helped us progress to where we are today.
We celebrate Father’s Day; giving flowers (and cigars) to all the male and masculine-identified people who serve as parental figures. We also acknowledge that this day, and days like it, are difficult for some members of our community. We see you and hope you’re able to find ways to hold on to joy.
It’s also Black Music Month and music has always been a powerful part of our legacy. It’s in that spirit that we’re excited to share our playlist
curated by attendees of last month’s event honoring Black Women Legendary Elders.
In whatever ways you decide to celebrate these important events please be sure to guard your joy!