I don’t want to get in trouble. I am more than supportive of all my ‘pride friends’ without even thinking they are any different. Please explain the incessant need to segregate from everyone else? Same rights, done–thankfully. But why the need to show who you prefer or who you identify with through a show or flag? I just don’t get it. Be yourself and let other people have the problem if they do, but I don’t advertise I’m single or straight or divorced or gay or Trans, so why do so many feel the need?
Signed, Need Answers in Newton, MA
Dear Need Answers,
It may be acceptable to be LGBTQIA where you live, but until very recently in the US and still in many countries around the world (Russia), LGBTQIA people were/are persecuted. Even where rights are on the books, LGBTQIA people are physically attacked and beaten and killed just for not being straight, just because they love someone society says is inappropriate. The Pride Marches and Pride Flags are a way io LGBTQIA people coming together in solidarity, affirming, even celebrating being their own unique selves. The colors of the original Pride Flag have meanings.
Pride month is the celebration of being, starting from 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in NYC. Trans and cross-dressers were raided regularly by police. They were attacked, arrested and jailed, and that first time, those trans women had had enough and they fought back. That was the beginning of LGBTQIA people demanding on equal rights and not being willing to be shunted off to jail or mental hospitals as punishment for being “outed” as LGBTQIA.
As the decades continue, more and more people acknowledged that they are not just straight or gay, but they discovered other textures, nuances and needs that straight and/or gay did not address fully. And since there are 7 billion humans and each one is unique, discovering an individual’s identity doesn’t fit exactly into an either/or definition is not surprising! Fifty plus years later, there are many more labels ( 60 plus are recognized by FaceBook alone) that people identify with, leading to the initials LGBTQIA. And that string actually is much longer!
So after Stonewall, LGBTQIA people marched and celebrated, and pushed for acceptance and equality. They want to be acknowledged legally and socially too. Thus we now string lots of letters to honor and accept their unique being-ness and everyone’s right to be who you define and identify yourself as who you experience yourself to be.
We are all one human race, but we are not always comfortable with people being different (color, nationality, differently-abled, or different sexual identifications) from the majority population. Sometimes new terms are off putting, and sometimes some people’s identifications don’t make sense to us immediately. Listen and read the stories of those who use these labels and who celebrate their unique identity. Once you know a couple of these folks personally, it will start to make sense.
I hope this helps you understand why some of us need to proclaim and celebrate our unique differences.
Christine Cantrell, PhD.