For years and years, the quest for marriage equality was the main focus of mainstream LGBTQ organizations. An unbelievable amount of time and money went into the fight and, on June 26, 2015, activists were victorious. The Supreme Court decision that granted everyone the right to marry the person they love, regardless of gender, was handed down just two days before the New York City Pride Parade. That year, the normally joyous event was ecstatic as the queer community celebrated our newly-won civil rights.
It was a landmark moment — but it was one that long-term activists knew wouldn’t come without backlash. And they were so tragically right. A year later, the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando took the lives of 49 young queer people and injured 53 more. It was the single deadliest single shooter attack in a country where mass gun violence is a daily occurrence, and the biggest assault on queer people ever seen in America, aside from the daily violence that’s been perpetrated against us for centuries. The election of Donald Trump in November felt like another blow to queer people, as we stared down a government that was suddenly entirely Republican-run.
So this year, for Pride 2017, I have a feeling things are going to be a bit more political than usual. Which is not to say Pride has ever been apolitical — simply showing up and saying “We’re here” is one of the major ways our communities have made social advances in the past few decades. We’ve made massive gains by putting our bodies on the line every June, but queer Americans know that the fight is far from over. From Pulse to Trump to Pence, here are five reasons Pride is going to be more political this year.
1Mike Pence's Record
Vice President Mike Pence is on record opposing marriage equality and anti-discrimination laws. There’s also that old dog whistle form his 2000 congressional campaign website that referenced “institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior,” which people have read as being pro-conversion therapy.
2Trump Has Committed To Appointing Anti-Marriage Equality Judges
With one Supreme Court Justice seat already filled with a judge who has a history of not being on our side, Trump hasn't stuck to his promise of protecting the LGBTQ community. PRAY FOR RBG, my friends. Because we cannot lose her in the next few years.
3Being Visibly Queer Feels More Dangerous Than Before
As if the shooting at Pulse wasn’t enough to remind us that being out and proud is still dangerous in the United States, the election of Trump has emboldened bigots of every stripe to speak out. Everywhere you look, from the internet to the streets you cries of anti “political correctness” and hear stories of increased harassment — and even assault — of people who aren’t white, cis, and straight.
I know that I personally have had conversations with people who have said the most vile things I’ve ever heard spoken out loud, and queer friends of mine have reported harassment in the streets and in bars. Simply showing up to a Pride event in that kind of climate can feel incredibly political, brave, and important.
4The Trump Administration Isn't Protecting Trans Folks
Trump rolled back guidelines allowing trans students to use the bathroom of their choice. Does that change anything? pic.twitter.com/OqHQpppIPt— AJ+ (@ajplus) May 30, 2017
One of the very first executive orders that President Trump passed was a reversal of a guidance issued by Obama that directed schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matched their gender. It’s a move that directly puts trans kids in peril by taking away protection that allows them to perform a basic human function. He also showed support for the notorious HB2 “bathroom bill” in North Carolina, which required trans people to use the bathroom that matched the gender they were assigned at birth.
Pride is a time of celebration. It’s a time to show the world that we’re not going anywhere — and it’s often a time to show just how fabulous we are. But as you’re getting your rainbows ready and trying to figure out how to just how you want your freak flag to fly, think too about ways you can make this Pride more political than ever. Remember: The personal is political. And if you’re part of the rainbow spectrum, there’s no truer statement.