On June 30, 2019, in the beating heart of America’s LGBTQ+ community, San Francisco’s Pride Parade gathered queer people from all corners of the country. Having grown more effervescent since its inauguration in 1970, San Francisco Pride has cultivated a hub of culture and love. Today, LGBTQ+ rights in the US have greatly progressed since the troublesome 70s, so why is there a need for a Pride Parade in 2022?
Pride is often considered unnecessary as it is believed that discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals is a figment of the past. But Pride is still an essential celebration because the systems that have harmed past generations of queer people continue to remain intact. To this day, many people cannot afford to feel safe within their identity. I feel my heart race whenever I walk past someone while wearing clothes that express who I am but could be judged as too “feminine.” Trans people are still denied the medical care they desire and require to feel at peace with themselves. Lesbian and bisexual women are still subjected to significantly higher rates of violence. Non-binary people are still invalidated and put in harm’s way for making the conscious choice of denying to subscribe to hegemonic gender values.
The sole purpose of Pride is not about fighting inequality; we are not the victims that others have portrayed us as. The experience of being queer shouldn’t be reduced to the pain that we as a community have experienced. We are incredibly resilient and strong-willed. Queer joy, which is seldom represented in the media, is a symbol of resistance that Pride provides a space for. Being proud and unabashedly queer is a right that we deserve to cherish.
It’s so easy to feel alone in a battle against the traditional perceptions of gender and sexual identity while forging an identity that feels true to ourselves. There is no other feeling that can amount to being surrounded by people who understand my struggle. Pride is important because it gives people, including me, a place to reflect, find comfort, and have fun without worrying about whether others will criticize their queerness. It gives me so much validation to see queer relationships thrive and younger people awestruck in a crowd of people they can look up to. Still, some will insist that Pride is an unnecessary show of hedonism that society needs to rid itself of. When a simple demonstration of unity allowing queer people to express themselves is considered an unwanted protest, that’s when you know pride parades are very much still necessary.