Community Voices:
Remembering Stonewall and Understanding Pride
Sarah Banzhof, 06-11-2019

Attendees of the 2018 Akron Pride Festival pose for a photo.
Stephen Mulé
As we begin the month of June in the year of 2019—the 50th anniversary of the NYC Stonewall Riots—it is important to remember why Pride Month exists. It started as a riot led by trans women of color against police violence. It is much much more than riding on a float wearing rainbow beads and dancing with friends. Webster defines the word “pride” as the “quality of state of being proud, to hold oneself in high regard.” The word can sometimes have a negative connotation—a conceited, better-than thou vibe—but this is not the case during the month of June to our community. This Pride is a sense of togetherness, of wholeness, of acceptance and love for who we are, who we love, and who God made us to be.

It’s also worth noting what Pride month isn’t about and shouldn’t be about. It should not be about corporations and politicians finally getting openly on board with the community—but only doing so in order to advance their product or politician and to further their brand loyalty through a re-appropriation of the rainbow. If you’d like to get behind ALL of the members of the community in the courtroom, law-making, police protection, healthcare, and during any other month besides June, it would be welcomed, but slapping rainbows on things solely to peddle products to queer audiences screams rainbow capitalism and inauthenticity! For decades, these groups at best ignored us and more often maligned us, so you will have to forgive our initial reaction for believing that this sudden support may be a gross distortion of the reality we’ve been living for years, rather than altruistic care for the LGBTQ+ community as a whole.

Pride month honors LGBTQ+ persons’ right to exist in society without persecution. We thank our true allies—and there are many—who call out and fight bigotry and hate, sometimes masked by phrases like “lifestyle choice,” “natural law,” and “religious rights,” while discrimination thrives.

For those on the fence about Pride itself—why there is a need for one and why there isn’t a “straight pride”—remember this: non-LGBTQ people aren’t brutally murdered or beaten for being straight. They don’t experience a higher level of homelessness because they’re straight, and they are not told they are deviant or sinful simply because of who they love at their place of worship. They don’t need a day or a celebration to honor their community or to tell themselves they are alright just the way they are because the world already does that for them—advertisements, movies, shows, songs, magazines, and history books already assure them of that every minute of every day.

Pride to me is looking back with reverence on those who’ve paved a path in order for us to have better lives and a better future, for celebrating how far we’ve come, and for looking ahead and recharging for how far we still have to go to gain complete equal rights.

Happy Pride to all of my LGBTQ+ brothers & sisters. Stand tall.

—Sarah Banzhof

The 2019 Akron Pride Festival takes place on August 24th from 11am to 7pm at Hardesty Park, 1615 W Market St., while the Cuyahoga Falls Pride Festival will take place October 12th at Stow Ave. & 2nd Street from 12-8pm.


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