Please, Take Your Kids to Pride

As you might know, June is Pride Month. Pride is celebrated by queer people all over the country in order to honor the values and struggles our community has faced (and is still facing today). I think a lot of people don't quite understand Pride, so let me explain some of the history. I'm sure this won't surprise you, but gay and transgender people have been arrested, beaten, and killed in the US since the founding of our nation. Even as recent as the 1950's and 1960's gay people were considered to be mentally ill (and it has only been in recent years that transgender was taken out of the DSM as a mental illness). In 1969, queer people rioted after police raided bars in New York City wherein they beat and arrested gay and transgender people for no reason other than the fact that they were in a gay bar. This had been a common practice of police all over the country and queer people were fed up. It's important to note that police weren't just targeting gay men and women. Police had also been targeting transgender people, people of color, drag queens, and queer people with disabilities. The riots drew national attention, but more importantly they united queer people all over the country. They were called the Stonewall Riots, commonly referred to as Stonewall. After Stonewall, groups all over the country began to come together to figure out how the community could build off of the energy of Stonewall. In 1969, the first ever Pride was held. It was mainly a march, and it spurred many others all over the country. Since then Pride has been happening every year.

A lot of people seem to think Pride is about celebrating sexuality- and it is. But its also about honoring the beautiful culture that queer people had to build from nothing in order to protect each other and survive. And it's not just an “honoring history” type of thing. The struggle of queer people all over the U.S. is real. Queer people are still harassed, beaten, targeted by police, and even murdered. In our country, the lifespan of a transgender woman of color is 33 years. And did you know that it is still legal to fire someone for being queer in most places in the US? The transgender community has extremely high rates of unemployment and suicide. Make no mistake, we have made progress. But not being harassed/beaten/killed as much as before is a lot different than it not happening at all. We are a community still in struggle.

With that said, it's important to remember that Pride isn't just a colorful parade. It's a space where we get to put the beauty of our community on full display. Queer isn't just a sexuality/gender identity. Queer describes our culture. In Queer culture we focus on kindness and compassion. We focus on justice and equality. We remember what it feels like to be so harshly judged and so we aim to remove judgment from our community. We are diverse, beautiful, and robust. We celebrate sexuality and focus on consent. We work to help our community love their bodies in all of their beautiful forms. Pride isn't just a time to remember, it's a time to be PROUD of the culture that we've built.

This is why you should bring your children to Pride. All of the values parents try to teach their children (kindness, justice, love, etc...) are front and center in the queer community. Our children are taught to love themselves and their bodies. They are taught to love other people. They are taught to seek out injustice and do what they can to make it right. They are taught to be fierce and strong. And we're happy to help teach this to your children, too.

It's possible you may have heard a queer person say something like “Straight people shouldn't come to pride-- it's OUR space.” Let me tell you, we don't all think this way. I don't even think most of us think this way. Now, it would be nice to be aware and considerate of the fact that you are in a queer space, but please come.

I often laugh with my friends because for years the media and politicians used the term “The Gay Agenda” to describe some big, scary set of goals that queer people wanted to push on everyone's children. But, it's true. We do have an agenda (at least I do). Only we're not trying to turn your kids into perverts... we're trying to turn them into compassionate, loving people. You don't have to believe exactly what we believe, but I think we can agree we want children who will carry out compassion and justice in this world.

Today is the 47th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. So on this occasion, let me extend an invite to you: Please, take your kids to Pride.  

Biff Chaplow