It’s June, which means that National LGBT Pride Month is here!
Although primarily new (President Obama expanded “Gay & Lesbian Pride Month” to also include bisexual and transgender representation in 2009), June has always been a time where the rainbow flags flew high across a nation-wide parade that was intended to bring attention to equal rights and same-sex culture.
However, my generation has become more engrossed in the festive bar scenes, parties and out of town hook-ups that go down during this time.
As a queer man of color, if you ask anyone around my age who is Bayard Rustin, Harvey Milk, Ruth Simpson or what happened during the Stonewall riots – they will most likely give you a blank stare.
Now 23 and forever curious of my identity, those legends and moments inspired me to come out when I was in high school. As a dual-minority, LGBT Pride Month holds just as much significance to me as Black History Month – it gives me a time to reflect on the lives before me and continue to push the legacy of those who paved the way.
But that sacred time to pay respect is being overshadowed by the commercial celebrity guest appearances, the sometimes catty drag show competitions and the superficial marketing of what it means to be gay in America.
Enough is enough. I refuse to allow my collective queer history and movement be reduced to an entry ticket into a mediocre go-go dancer spectacle masked as a charity event. No thank you, Boxer PHL.
When my friends and fellow gays talk about Pride, we now look at it as more of a social function rather than a time to actually give a damn about the current issues we still face.
It hurts when some of them will tell me that they are “too broke to do Pride,” because now a month that was meant to empower us has become a rather nasty exposing of the have and have-nots.
We often forget that at this very moment homeless LGBT youth rates are still exponentially higher than their straight counterparts. That queer members of color are still being discriminated against and murdered in cities that are considered “progressive.” And that HIV/AIDS is still disproportionately taking away the lives of various poor members of our community as well.
These are the facts that we should take in consideration while also remembering the life of Matthew Shepard and the countless others who continue to die for the privilege we so often take for granted. As we now extend our support to Caitlyn Jenner for her remarkable transition, let’s not lose sight of those who are still fighting to just to exist.
That is how I will celebrate Pride this year – not wasting another dime for an overpriced drunken night full of superfluous elitism and pseudo activism. I’d rather just stay put and remind people of the lives that weren’t as fortunate to have the very same choice that inspired this month to begin with.