As the clock ticked over to the 1st of June, I braced myself to face the corporate side of Pride, screenshotting the worst of it to send to my partner so we could both roll our eyes at the new campaigns. Pride is a complex celebration, one rooted in sadness, fear, rebellion, but also joy, and the freedom to be yourself.
In June 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn bar, and a riot began. In June of 1970, on the anniversary of the attack on Stonewall, the first ‘gay liberation march’, as it was called at the time, ran through the streets of New York. 2022 marks the 52nd year of Pride being a global event, marked by queer and non queer folk, companies and an ever growing amount of towns and cities in the UK (and most importantly, Wales).
Cardiff Pride takes place on the 27th and 28th of August. It will be my first Pride. Growing up, I was not too aware of queer activities, I was too busy taking ‘Am I Gay?’ quizzes. I have watched Pride progress from something that only happens in Brighton, a cheap joke and a taboo subject, to June becoming the month for queer people. Modern day Pride is known for bright colours, a cheaply made top by a large corporation that reads ‘love is love’ and a bustling parade for all. While it’s amazing to have increasing acceptance, who is Pride really for, and what has it truly become?
There is a fluid attitude towards Pride within the queer community, with it being joyful to interact, mingle, and party. It’s refreshing to be reminded of shared experiences, that we are not alone,but, Pride acts as a reminder of the history, exclusion and huge amount of loss that is a part of the queer community. While all are welcome to celebrate, the nature of Pride will likely forever be tainted by its history. But in 2022, is Pride a party or a protest?
It’s undeniable that the first Pride in 1970 was an act of rebellion, grief and a protest. Modern day Pride has shifted, with a march only becoming part of this, musical guests, drag acts, specialist cocktails, Pride has more on offer than a walk. But the meaning of Pride is surely similar to its origins, after all it began as a memorial march and protest to mark a violent attack on the community. By gathering en masse, in a way we are still actively protesting through our own existence, and by taking up space. Pride has led to an increase in awareness over the years, and even though what could be seen as a party, we are still protesting. Being unapologetically queer, in itself, is a protest against the past, and some peoples current views.
Pride’s importance as a protest is ever relevant today. With more queer figures, icons and celebrities, there is increasing public interest in the queer community. However, this comes with its negatives. One issue that comes to mind is JK Rowling’s attack on the Trans community. It’s debated on the morning news, late night talk shows and on every social media platform. While things may have changed over the last 52 years, and Pride may feel lighter, our party is still a protest and a push for equality and understanding. So have a good and safe time, party or not, Pride is here to stay.
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