June is Pride month because in 1969 a group of queer people — led by trans women of color and lesbians — fought back after suffering years of abuse from the police. On June 28 of that year, police raided the gay club Stonewall in the gay neighborhood of Greenwich Village in downtown Manhattan. Some of the drag queens and trans women who were kicked out of the bar responded by giving the police exaggerated salutes and putting on a little performance for the growing crowd. But when other gender-nonconforming patrons were ordered into police cars to be booked, the crowd responded by throwing bottles and coins at the police. The unrest spread into the surrounding streets, transforming into a riot — and the modern queer rights movement was born.
It’s an important, beautiful, hard history — and it’s one that we all should remember and pay tribute to every year. But one of the few things that Pride celebrations these days have in common with that riot at Stonewall is drag queens and trans women performing for the crowd. These days, Pride isn’t a riot; it’s a celebration — of our queerness; our fabulousness; our right to be out and proud of who we are. In Pride celebrations across the country, you’ll see a range of queerness, from drag queens who are six feet, seven inches tall in their heels and wigs to leather daddies in assless chaps to lesbian moms marching with their kids.
Personally, I always cry at Pride parades. Every. Single. Time. There’s something so beautiful and heartening and overwhelming about people who have been treated so badly for so long literally taking to the streets and saying “Screw your hate. Screw your stereotypes and screw everything you think about who I am. This is me and I love me.”
But I’m just one Millennial bisexual woman. Obviously I wasn’t and none of my peers were alive during that time, but we’ve all benefited from the bold moves those humans took in 1969. I was curious to know — What do other queer Millennials think of Pride in 2017, nearly 50 years after the riot at Stonewall? Here’s what seven told me.
1. Jasmine, 30: Grown-Ass Woman & Tomboy Femme Dyke
This year I'm really looking forward to Pride because I feel like I'm finally entirely grounded in my gayness/queerness. I feel like I know who I am and how I fit in my community and like I HAVE A COMMUNITY! So this year Pride is a celebration of coming into my own (again and again and again) and being comfortable knowing I am living my truest life and I have lots of love surrounding and supporting me. I'm proud of my newfound fluidity between being a bit masc and a bit femme. I used to be afraid of the femme but now I hold it so dear and am loving that I am comfortable/proud enough to own my femmeness. I really relish it.
I will be bartending a couple events which allows me to give others in the community a safe space to celebrate. I also will be attending a couple events as well as the Trans and Dyke March (and the park time that goes along with both).
2. Kae, 28: Agender, Queer
This is the first Pride month/celebration since Orlando, and the first since Trump has taken office. This year it feels extra important to take a public stand to show that we cannot be scared back into the closet and we cannot be ignored.
I plan on celebrating by: F*cking, loving, kissing, singing, dancing, shouting.
3. Nina, 24: Female, Bisexual
It's my first pride since I officially came out, so it means finally finding my space within the LGBTQA+ community, as opposed to being an ally! I'm so excited to engage more actively in gatherings and issues that go beyond this celebration.
I am so proud learning to love my femininity, such as my love for dresses, pink, and having a cry at a sad movie. For so long I would hide or be ashamed of my "feminine" qualities, but I am learning to embrace them fully. I am also learning to stop erasing bisexuality in queer discussion, something I was guilty of doing myself even as a bisexual woman. I am proud of the strength of the women in my life who continue to inspire me through overcoming their day-to-day challenges of misogyny, patriarchal BS, microaggressions, and pain. I am also proud of myself for allowing myself to feel queer this past year and having the coming to officially come out. I thought I wasn't allowed to come out because I wasn't gay/queer enough, hadn't had a long-term girlfriend, or I would lose support because of it. However, my Mum keeps buying me little bits and pieces with rainbows on and it makes my heart so warm to know that I have the love and support of my community, regardless of who I fall in love with.
I am going to dance and march and explore the fair/festival/parade in Portland, Oregon. There is an entire week of LGBTQ friendly activities to take advantage of here and I am so excited. My best friend and I are going to go and have a great time dancing, parading, and hopefully meeting some cool new friends!
4. Jake, 32: Cismale (Presenting, But Really More Genderfluid), Bisexual/Queer
Well, I live in Canada, and there's been a lot of controversy surrounding Pride both last year and this year. Pride has become very corporate, as well as a way for politicians to profit off of work that marginalized groups have been putting in for decades longer than said politicians have been Pride-friendly. I'm still not sure if I'm going to march this year, partially because of all that, partially because I'm bisexual and have never felt completely welcome at Pride (or in the straight community, if there is such a thing), partially because I think the Canadian Pride's reaction to the BLM protests at pride last year have been less than ideal. So it's complicated.
I am of course very proud of my sexuality, especially since it took me many years to get to that point, but I'm also loud and proud year round and feel odd about going out of my way to be something I already am for just one day (or month or whatever). All that said, I still think pride is extremely important and I fully respect people's choice to either go or not go to Pride events. I think a case can be made for either decision (personally I'm clearly still very much on the fence). If I do go, it will be with my partner and friends and I will be high as a kite and covered in glitter and rainbows.
I present as very cismale, but I've actually always felt much more femme than masc. The tricky part is, I like having a beard and I have a short/stocky frame so no matter how I choose to present myself I feel like people will always see me in a masculine light (even though the real me couldn't be further from that). So my relationship with the way in which I present my gender to the world is currently too complicated for me to be specifically proud of it. My sexuality on the other hand, took me nearly two decades of both straight and queer people telling me I was greedy, lying, in a phase, etc. etc. etc., before I was finally able to really own who I am. I use the term bisexual because it's widely known so it's an easy answer (and because pansexual sounds pretentious, even though it obviously isn't) but really my sexuality can more accurately be described like so. I like people. Doesn't matter the shape, size, creed, etc, and it especially doesn't matter what bits they're packing. If I'm into them in a romantic/sexual way, I would very much like those bits in my face from time to time (if they're also into said arrangement obviously). I am very proud of my bisexuality/queerness.
5. Suzannah, 26: Non-binary, Female, I Don't Identify With A Sexual Orientation
Pride means acknowledging that there are more ways to live and to be than what society would have us believe. I came out as non-binary about a year ago, and it marked a realization that I got to decide who I was rather than letting anybody decide for me. That I didn't create the system of gender, and therefore I have no duty to subscribe to it. But honestly I have no plans for Pride — I haven't even had the chance to think about it.
6. Dylan, 33: Male, Queer
Pride means celebrating and reaffirming your right to be who you want to be and love who you want to love. I am proud that despite a lifetime of attacks on my identity, my relationships, and my community that I can still find the strength to fight, to exist, and to celebrate. That strength is widespread among the LGBTA, and it is perpetually inspiring. Unfortunately schedule conflicts prevent me from attending any of the events this year.
7. Sebastian, 22: Non-binary Transgender Man, Pansexual/Polyamorous
This year, Pride means the most to me because I'm starting the process of my hormonal transition this month! I'm proud to be a man, I'm proud to be feminine, I'm proud to sexually and intimately appreciate people of all genders and I'm proud to have an open and honest relationship.
I have never celebrated Pride, either because I was closeted or I was in proximity to a queer community that rejected me for not being "queer enough." I recently moved and the community seems much more supportive here. I'm open to, but reluctant about, celebrating this year.
As you can see, Pride means so many things to members of the queer community — and there's certainly not one way to show your support for equality either.