June is Pride month around the world – a joyous time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. Every year, members and allies of the community come together to celebrate a group that has consistently been discriminated against for hundreds of years (and continues to be discriminated against!). Parades, festivals and all sorts of other events are held throughout the month to recognize the progress that has been made for gay rights, and also how long of a road there is ahead for ultimate equality.
Many are familiar with the Stonewall Riots that sparked the gay rights movement in the US in the late 1960’s. The Stonewall Inn is a now historic gay bar located in Greenwich Village in New York City. On June 28, 1969, police officers raided the popular venue, which fueled protests and riots in the city. Throughout the next decade, the gay community became more outspoken in their demands for equal rights and treatment in the eyes of the law. The AIDS crisis in the 1980’s was a huge hurdle for the community, as millions of members of the community died, and millions more faced increased stigma and prejudice from society. The President during the AIDS crisis, Ronald Reagan, didn’t even recognize the public health catastrophe for years after the initial outbreak, as millions of members of the community passed without much government recognition.
Since then, there has been a gradual increase in rights for gay Americans. But many of these progresses took decades of years to be made, with gay marriage only becoming legal in America in the last decade. Homosexual relations were illegal in the US until less than 20 years ago, when the landmark Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas finally made it legal to have gay relationships.
Despite the advancements in rights that have been made for the LGBT+ community in America, there are still millions and millions living in fear, unable to be themselves in front of their families, their employers and in public. Hate crimes against members of the community (and in recent years, especially the transgender community) are still prevelant, particularly in the south or typically conservative, right-leaning states. According to World Population Review, there is still no law preventing discrimination of LGBTQ+ individuals country-wide. Conversion therapy is still legal in 22 states. Transgender individuals are not able to join the military in the US. There is still a long, long way to go for equality.
Many nations are far behind the US and other western countries in regards to rights for queer people. Dozens of nations around the world still have being gay illegal, with punishment ranging from imprisonment to death. According to the BBC, there are 69 countries where being gay is illegal, as of 2021. That means millions and millions of members of the LGBTQ+ community live in fear daily, unable to be their true selves, in fear of legal punishment, not to mention the social stigmas.
The reason Pride is so important is to recognize those that can’t live their lives freely, to recognize the prejudicial and barbaric treatment of its members, while also being a way for people to come together to celebrate themselves and their community. Pride is a celebration for a still very mistreated community.
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Conversion "Therapy" Laws. Movement Advancement Project. (n.d.). Retrieved June 10, 2022, from https://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps/conversion_therapy
History.com Editors. (2017, May 31). Stonewall riots. History.com. Retrieved June 10, 2022, from https://www.history.com/topics/gay-rights/the-stonewall-riots
LGBT Rights By Country 2022. LGBT rights by country 2022. (n.d.). Retrieved June 10, 2022, from https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/lgbt-rights-by-country
Brandimarte, Emilia. (2020, October 26). The history of decriminalizing homosexuality in the United States. Homoglobin. Retrieved June 10, 2022, from https://www.homoglobin.org/blog/the-history-of-decriminalizing-homosexuality-in-the-united-states
Reality Check Team. (2021, May 12). Homosexuality: The countries where it is illegal to be gay. BBC News. Retrieved June 10, 2022, from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-43822234