This year is the 45th anniversary of the first ever Pride Parade held in New York City. The annual celebration is, of course, in honor of the Stonewall riots that happened on June 28, 1969. What began as a fight against police harassment and discrimination in Greenwich Village turned into a yearly demonstration of refusing to back down and closeting ourselves, and every year in cities across the globe, Pride becomes more and more like a huge party and farther away from a call to arms.
But why can’t it be both?
Ideally, Gay Pride should be both political and festive. A lot has been said about the hyper-sexualization of floats and attractions (you know, the whole “muscley tan guy in a Speedo, thing), but the parade is only one facet of the commemoration, and most cities offer several opportunities to create community and learn from one another. There are so many entry points into having pride—whether it’s the pride you have about your hometown being so LGBT-friendly, or the pride you find from having access to your local LGBT women’s center. There’s likely so much you have to explore.
But say you don’t live in a place that’s gay-friendly, and you are more likely to face a Stonewall type situation than a parade in your honor. It’s just as important that you find a way to celebrate being out and proud—even if you aren’t out to everyone in your life. Pride is different for everyone, and the number one thing you could (and should) take pride in is that you belong to a community that has and continues to fight for you. You, sitting alone or in a roomful of people who share a common bond with you, are part of a legacy that is changing the world for the better.
This is something to remember and study and, yes, celebrate. The anger we have had for centuries has given us a shared passion for equality and fairness.That’s a reason to celebrate. And as queer women, it’s also important that we pay tribute to another part of Pride history: The dyke march.
The first-ever Dyke March was held in Washington, D.C. on April 24, 1993 as part of the March on Washington. The Lesbian Avengers gathered a group of 20,000 women and allies to participate after seeing that the overall event had no plans for lesbian or bi inclusion. Since then, dyke marches have been held in conjunction with pride in several cities like Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Berlin, London, Toronto, Montreal, Minneapolis and more. But while Prides thrive and grow in major metropolitan areas and small towns alike, many Dyke Marches have been dying out from lack of support, planning and funding.
For the last eight years, Los Angeles has been home to Dyke Day LA a Pride offshoot organized is by gay women that is free and open to all queer women and allies. They hold fundraisers ahead of the June event to raise enough money to continue to provide the inclusive space at a public park. This weekend, Long Beach Dyke March and Rally will kick off at Bixby Park. San Francisco, Boston and Chicago all have marches planned throughout Pride weekends in June. The hard work that the women who organize these events, using their own time and money that we can feel like our own history and identities are given their due, too.
Maybe getting out of town and heading to a big city Pride is the way you want to celebrate this year. Hilton’s Go Out campaign is the latest show of support from the travel brand, who has been a huge ally to the community and wants to help you celebrate Pride all summer-long. Go Out is a great resource for LGBT events, city guides and other helpful travel tidbits (including a look at Mary Lambert’s favorite spots in her hometown, Seattle.)
The solidarity that comes from Pride is expanded upon every year, and you can be a part of that. Because what ultimately comes from this historic anniversary party is an honoring of our ancestors and ourselves, and the setbacks we’ve faced and achievements we’ve made together.
I encourage you to do something different for Pride this year. Check out what is going on near you—attend a panel, a screening, a mixer or event you never have before. If you can’t do that, check out Before or After Stonewall on Netflix, or read an LGBT history book. (Ask me on Twitter and I can give you some great suggestions.) Or start a conversation in our forum with other gay women. Visit your local lesbian bar, should you be lucky enough to still have one in business. Whatever you do, acknowledge that you are part of something really special, and that’s something to be proud about.