Just last year, we were taking a moment to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a time (with respect to 1966’s LA’s Compton Cafeteria Riots and other protests pre-Stonewall) that proved to be a tipping point for the LGBTQIA Rights movement. A march to commemorate Stonewall took place in June 1970, which birthed the “Pride parades” that we know today. These parades occur in most major cities across the globe and provide an opportunity for the Queer community to come together, publicly in ways that are still deemed unacceptable in some parts of the world. Today Pride comes with thumping music, hours-long parades, and colorful floats adorned with your local drag queen and/or king waving as they throw you a pair of beads.
However, the truth is that Pride was never just about a parade. It was never about corporations, rainbow-colored socks, bowties, and t-shirts sold in big-box stores. You will find the real Pride in activists, community leaders, and LGBTQIA+ community members coming together to announce their whole selves to their community. As spring shifts to summer, America continues to deal with the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, while also facing our original sin of racism, marked by the recent deaths of trans folx such as Nina Pop and Taylor McDade.
Due to these deaths and others, Queer and Trans leaders are calling for the “cancellation” of Pride, a recognition that until members of the Black community (namely Trans Black people with an emphasis on Trans Women of Color) are not free, then our celebrations must stop. It is a bold, powerful assertion that we at the CDI wholeheartedly support. Trans black individuals continue to die at a staggeringly higher rate than their White trans counterparts, with many of those deaths being unresolved and underreported. These deaths are unacceptable. We, as a center, will continue raising their names and striving to be a space of support for you on your journey through WashU.
For as much as the story of Pride has been about unity and community, we must name that the LGBTQIA+ community has victimized itself with internalized biphobia, transphobia, and homophobia that unfortunately has pushed some community members to feel siloed. The CDI will continue stating that we value all of our members of the LGBTQQIP2SAA+ community. We value your intellect, your activism, your fierceness, and everything that you have and will continue to do to make Washington University a healthier, more empowered space. Always know that our area is open to you and that we will strive to build experiences that speak to your lived experiences.
The Center for Diversity and Inclusion is looking to create the first-ever Student Commission on LGBTQIA Justice/Equity. The goal of this group would be to provide student perspectives, guidance, and critique to the Center for Diversity and Inclusion on issues concerning gender and sexuality. If you are interested in participating, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. A representative from the CDI will follow-up with you as we are beginning to form the group.
Finally, make sure to visit the CDI Instagram (@wustlcdi) and Facebook group to see a series of Pride Month spotlights from one of our student leaders, Marc Ridgell. Through his project (black queer informative project), he is helping to teach all of us about the history and intricacies of the LGBTQIA Rights Movement. Thank you, Marc!
The fight and struggle for equity for all individuals under the Queer and Trans umbrella will live far beyond June; we are here to support you in that truth now and in the future.
Center for Diversity and Inclusion