June is recognised as Pride Month globally. This is a time to raise awareness around LGBTQI+ – or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and anyone else who doesn’t fit the binary – issues and celebrate how far this community has come in its fight for equality. For many, it’s also a time to dress up, cover yourself in glitter and dance on a float with zero inhibitions!
But what exactly are the origins of this worldwide month of action and reflection?
A history of Pride
People’s outlook on homosexuality – or anything outside of the heteronormative spectrum – has changed many times throughout history. In Ancient Greece and Rome, these relationships were often encouraged. But, for the last few hundred years, queerness has largely been shunned. And by shunned, we mean not being deemed equal and having the same civil rights as the rest of society.
It was an event in New York City in June 1969 at a popular hangout for people from the gay, lesbian, transgender and queer communities that acted as the catalyst to revive the LGBTQI+ rights movement. After police started harassing them, the crowd started rioting, recognising the discrimination they were witnessing. This is now known as the Stonewall Riots and is remembered and honoured annually during Pride Month as people march across their cities with their rainbow flags in hand.
Gay in SA
The results of a 2021 internet survey by Ipsos revealed that nearly one in five people from the Gen Z generation are not straight.
South Africa has a progressive constitution and was the first country in the world to pass laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. We were also the fifth nation globally to recognise and legalise same-sex marriages.
As of 2019, there were around 634 000 locals identifying as LGBTQI+. We see you, and we celebrate you!
Flying the fun flag
There are several variants of the iconic flag, some of which also incorporate the transgender community and people of colour. The standard, six colour rainbow was designed by a gay artist and drag queen in the 1970s as a symbol for the LGBTQI+ community. Red represents life, orange stands for healing, yellow is for new ideas, green stands for prosperity, blue for serenity and violet for spirit. Not only does this speak to positive things but also makes for a visually-appealing Pride Month parade!
Pride Month is about equality, visibility and, most of all, about love. Everyone should be able to have relationships and enjoy consensual sex with anyone – with any type of genitals – they please. Because love is love.
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