It’s time you realized that Pride is so much fun because it’s the one day we exist in a place where people are free to be themselves.
Last year, Chicago’s Pride Parade came on the heels of the Supreme Court’s Marriage Equality ruling. My lesbian-headed family put on our rainbow beads and got swept up in the festivities. I was humbled thinking about the history of my community and all of the warriors who brought us to such a historic milestone. Our straight allies were voicing support and joining in the celebration of the momentous occasion.
What a difference a year makes.
In the next two weeks, Chicago will join cities around the country in celebrating Pride. We do so in the shadow of the Orlando murders, in a country where many Americans are choosing to ignore that this was a crime against the Latinx LGBTQ community. The media is reporting that a man who was stopped on his way to the Los Angeles Pride Parade with a car full of weapons, ammunitions, and explosives was not necessarily a threat, in part because he himself was bisexual. As if the hatred sown in our country never makes a young person turn against themselves or others.
LGBTQ youth still live in communities where they are not safe. Transgender women of color are murdered at a frightening rate. In many states, a person may lose their job because of their sexual or gender identity. These aren’t new problems, but they do show that if last year’s Pride festivities were a celebration of how far our community has come, this year needs to be about how far we still have to go.
We need our straight allies to do more than join in the party that is Pride. If Orlando is an opportunity to call for much needed gun ownership reform, it is also a time for our country to understand the impact of its constant assault on LGBTQ people. The fight isn’t just about who goes to the bathroom where—people are dying. Hating us is socially acceptable. My social media account that a year ago was lit up with rainbow profile pictures is almost devoid of any mention of the identity of the Orlando victims. Why aren’t more people speaking the truth out loud?
My request for straight people is this: If you choose to go to Pride events in the coming weeks, do so in the true spirit of the event. Pride is about the LGBTQ struggle to be visible in our communities, to create a society where we don’t have to hide our sexual or gender identities inside bars. We need our allies to support that message year round, not just when you put on your rainbow wigs and beads. We need you to amplify LGBTQ voices and consider our rights when you cast a vote.
I know many of you attend Pride Parades for the fun, not for the political significance. It’s time you realized that Pride is so much fun because it’s the one day we exist in a place where people are free to be themselves. Imagine the beauty of a life where that was true every day.
Anne Penniston Grunsted writes about parenting, disability, and family life from her perspective as a lesbian mama. She has been published in The Washington Post, Brain, Child Magazine, Mamamia, and won the 2014 Nonfiction prize from Beecher’s Magazine. She lives in Chicago with her partner and son.