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In the last five years, the LGBTQIA+ community has celebrated and mourned across emotionally charged Pride months. It was during Pride in 2015 when the Supreme Court recognized the legality of same sex marriage for the first time in United States history. Just a year later in 2016 the community grieved for the 49 lives lost at Pulse, a gay bar in Orlando, Fla. 

This year, Pride month came at a critical intersection of the COVID-19 pandemic, movement for Black lives, and as the Supreme Court continues to release decisions that affect members of the LGBTQIA+ community directly. Reflecting on what Pride has looked like in 2020 serves as a reminder of the work that must continue outside of the month of June as we push forward for progress, equity, and accountability.

Queer Liberation is Black Liberation

Throughout the month of June, communities across the country have protested and demonstrated in response to the continued murder of Black people at the hands of police. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community have been outspoken allies and accomplices in this movement, restructuring plans for virtual Pride events while shifting focus to social distanced and masked marches in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives. 

The fight for queer liberation and the fight for Black liberation have always been intrinsically linked. Rooted in class struggle and in conflict with white supremacist culture, these struggles for freedom have shared and grown out of one another since the riot at Stonewall Inn, which is historically noted as the “first Pride.” 

Survival in a Pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic became more and more of a reality across the United States this spring, it didn’t take long for people to draw parallels to the government’s slow and unproductive response to the pandemic and the Reagan administration’s inaction in response to the HIV epidemic as it emerged in the 1980s. 

Though there is no way to productively compare these two crises of public health, and no real point in doing so, there is an emerging trend that is worth noting: when a crisis disproportionately affects a historically marginalized population, it is significantly less likely that government officials will take action to provide support and protection for their constituents. 

Instead, communities are forced to lean into their own networks of support and create effective mutual aid strategies. During the HIV pandemic, buyers clubs provided life-saving medication to people living with the virus through back-channel supply chains. Today, community members are buying groceries for their neighbors and friends at risk of serious complication from COVID-19, setting up funds for families affected, and taking protective measures like wearing masks and washing hands. In the face of government inaction, our communities are resilient and tenacious. 

Fighting for Rights Continues

This month, the LGBTQIA+ community celebrated a victory when the Supreme Court ruled that under Title VII, individuals are protected from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The 6-3 ruling federally protects many members of the community from unfair treatment in the workplace.

Though this case is a landmark rule, it also demonstrates that progress in all forms at the governmental level is slow and tedious. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community are slowly claiming one right at a time, with several years between significant victories. For many, justice delayed is justice denied, as we lose members of our community due to systemic inequities that make access to things like health care, safe and secure housing, employment, and other necessities possible. 

Though this ruling provides de jure protection, the reality is that power dynamics between employees and employers and the concept of ‘at-will employment’ still leaves many individuals in unsafe working conditions. When we peel back one layer of discrimination, we often see several other layers reaching deeply beneath. 


To continue supporting members of the LGBTQIA+ community, consider supporting organizations and movements that protect Black trans lives.

Tags: pride, pride month