June 2022 has come and gone, and with it the official Pride Month celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. Pride parades are always an energetic event for members of the LGBTQ+ community- a time to dress in all colours of the rainbow, sprinkle each other with glitter and gather for a day of self-acceptance and fun.
However, this vital calendar event also embodies an important role of honouring history. First celebrated in 1970, the month of June pays tribute to the brave protestors of the Stonewall Riot. Recognising the generations of activists whose hard work means the current community is free to openly celebrate and show pride, Pride Month has become increasingly important throughout the late 20th and early 21st century.
A layered and ever-evolving event, Pride’s role appears to have changed since those first impassioned rioters, as the parades became a legally protected and politically ingrained part of the LGBTQ+ community. Furthermore, days promoting the visibility of specific identities, such as International Trans Day of Visibility, Bi Visibility Day and International Non-Binary People’s Day, now occur throughout the year to continue the essence of Pride.
So, now that Pride 2022 has come to an end, what meaning do young people today draw from Pride? And why is this joyful act of self-acceptance still so important?
Vision talked to students to find out just what “Pride in 2022 means to you?”.
LGBTQ+ officer Katie Wiseman highlighted the celebratory aspects of the event:
“I think that pride is so important to our community. It is an amazing celebration of all the things that LGBTQ+ people have achieved. It means everything to see so many people celebrating who they are.”
Women and Non-Binary Officer Izzy Andrews told Vision about the societal change Pride has brought about:
“To me, Pride is feeling seen, heard and respected in our society. It used to feel incredibly difficult to find a viable safe space as a non-binary lesbian, however over time, this has felt a lot more doable. This makes me feel very proud.”
Freddie Newell, the secretary of LGBTQ+ Network and LGBTQ+ Officer for Constantine College agrees with the sentiments of the importance of the freedom of expression:
“Pride for me has always been a time of liberation, freedom, and unapologetic queer expression. It is a time when the LGBTQ+ community not only comes together to celebrate our history and our struggle for acceptance and inclusion, but also a time where we continue on the path to true equality and worldwide acceptance of our true authentic selves.
“Pride is a tool which we, as a community, can use to spread awareness of the social justice we are fighting for and the inequalities and mistreatment we still face, and what people not only within the community can do, but also what out allies can do to help not just within the UK but around the world.”
Some students embraced the communal aspects of Pride, such as LGBTQ+ Ordinary Member Sam who said, “It felt very assuring to see such a wide range of ages at pride, from toddlers to elderly.”
Similarly, Vision also asked students Anouk and Kacie about the importance of Pride, with both drawing attention to a key ongoing ability of Pride – to educate and embrace young or questioning members.
Anouk told Vision: “Pride to me in 2022 means to live my life as my authentic self, even if that is something I’m still figuring out. While feeling supported by a community which helps me freely explore who I am and makes me feel comfortable in that being a constant discovery.”
Kacie agrees, stating that: “for me, Pride is about growth and being myself. It wasn’t something talked about when I was young so I figured a lot of things out on my own, and I’m still figuring things out. Especially in today’s political climate, staying steadfast to my identity is something I find comfort in.”
Even our Vision members had important connections to the ever-evolving Pride month.
Co-editor Marti said “Pride means being your true self in an environment that is safe, welcoming and inclusive. It means not hiding who you are and embracing what makes us wonderful and unique.”
Co-Editor Katie also emphasised the importance of the community, stating that “Pride allows for people not only to experience their truth, but to be an advocate for others. My favourite part about Pride is being able to be educated about other identities within the LGBTQ+ community, with all members of the community advocating for one another”.
A longstanding and ever-evolving moment of historical remembrance, Pride Month continues to be an important part of self-expression, identity searching and community building for students.
Pride’s ongoing ability to change societal expectations, welcome all participants, facilitate education and unapologetic expression and have a lot of celebratory fun along the way shows that this month-long event is still a vital part of the calendar in 2022.