straight and cis allies – all of us. We celebrate. We reflect. We reminisce and reunite. We live.
So many in our community cling to their memories of Pride Month year after year as the lifeline that gets them through the eleven other months of the year.
2020 changed that.
Those of us who have lived through the past month will remember these days for the rest of our lives. Not just because of COVID-19 and its impact – the postponement of Pride parades and festivals and events across the country and around the world. Not just because this year marks the 40th anniversary of Pride in Phoenix. Not just because of the extenuating circumstances that have closed our favorite places to congregate, forced us into virtual interactions and led to hoarding of basic household supplies.
We’re going to remember 2020 because, as always, even in our worst moments, it was the best of times.
Our community survives and thrives because we have always emerged from our darkest hours into our brightest moments. We fight and we feel pain, but we stand up, rise to the next challenge and overcome our obstacles one at a time.
In reflecting on Pride Month 2020 there are two things that will stand out, beyond pandemics and virtual gatherings: Unity and Solidarity.
We have a knack for standing united. We don’t all always agree. We don’t all view the world through the same lens, but we do share experiences and when it comes to our rights and freedoms, we are in it together.
Pride Month 2020 began with disappointment. The current administration in Washington chose to honor our time with a brazen attack on transgender rights – in healthcare, specifically, of all places, and in the midst of a global pandemic. It wasn’t a surprise. We know where this administration stands and how happy they are to undermine moments of celebration with acts of ignorance and spite.
But then something else happened. The U.S. Supreme Court, just five years almost to the day after their historic Obergefell v. Hodges opinion that allowed us to be married to same-sex partners in all 50 states and U.S. territories, handed us another victory that was almost shocking.
In a landmark 6-3 decision, written by conservative Trump-appointee Neil Gorsuch and joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court recognized that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, U.S. Code, protects employees from discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation or
This is huge. But our celebration was once again tempered. Even as we enjoyed the hardwon victory at the Supreme Court, civil unrest was raging around us.
Pride has always been rooted in protest. We find our very creation in political activism and civil disobedience, from Stonewall to the earliest crowds marching down city streets shouting, “We’re queer and we’re here!”
This Pride month was scarred by the acute pain of our brothers and sisters in the Black community, whether LGBTQ+ or not. We are seeing around us the culmination of 400 years of systemic oppression and marginalization of America’s Black community, and as crusaders for Justice for all people, it was incumbent for us to stand up in solidarity with those who have suffered so much and for so long. We were proud to partner with other LGBTQ+ organizations and Black community organizations and organizers to march in unity through downtown Phoenix. We have all been pained by the vicious acts of violence we have witnessed against the Black community, over a period of centuries, decades, and especially in this modern-day of YouTube
and social networks. We will not stop fighting until this oppression ends.
Still, there was incredible strength and inspiration in seeing so many from across our community and others standing together, marching together, fighting together, because some of us were in immediate need and we will not turn our backs on those who are being put down. We’ve been there. We’re still there. We understand. And we are with you.
Black lives matter.
What does all of this mean for our future? We do not know. We continue to look forward to an incredible 40th Anniversary Festival and Parade in November, but until then, we will continue to fight for an end to injustice. We will continue to celebrate the affirmation of our rights by the courts, but we will not take our eyes off the prize of recognizing the rights of all people who are oppressed. We will continue to embrace ourselves and each other and to celebrate our identity and our culture and our love and our freedom. But we will not lose sight
of the rights still to be gained, for ourselves and for our friends and neighbors and family and community who are still engaged in struggle.
Pride Month 2020 will be remembered. But let it be remembered not for its challenges, but rather for the way we have met them: With shining colors and unbroken unity, amongst ourselves, and with the community around us.
Happy Pride. And here’s to the progress we have made. May it continue onward for the benefit of all.