Pride is about acceptance and solidarity

Pride is about acceptance and solidarity

East Bay Pride celebrations this month have included: (Clockwise from left) Concord’s Pride in the Plaza, as well as Pride parades in Clayton and Port Costa. (Pete Cruz photos)

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (June 18, 2023) — In the ’70s and ’80s in San Francisco, it wasn’t called Pride. It was the San Francisco Gay Liberation or Gay Freedom Day. Then came the International Lesbian and Gay Freedom Day Parade.

There were riots, police and protestors.

It became the San Francisco LGBT Pride celebration in 1995, and it’s been Pride ever since.

I’ve caught wind of objection from acquaintances and in the media. “Why do you get a month to celebrate yourselves? I want a straight pride.” Or, “I feel marginalized as a cisgendered straight person. We are the normal ones; we should get a month to party.”

I bet you can feel the hostility in those statements. I suspect a whole bunch of you can go back in time to when you came out to yourselves or risked coming out to someone trusted.

Some of you quaked in fear for someone who came out to you.

What is Pride month really?

We are proud of who we are. We claim who we are. In the face on ongoing and increasing threats to our community, we stand to demand the same rights granted automatically to heterosexual cisgendered people.

Maybe you’ve heard “you have the same rights.”

Let me remind those who have said that:

I don’t know a single kid who has fled their home in fear of harm or fear of their life because they came out as straight.

I don’t know a single kid who got bullied and beaten up at school because they came out as straight.

I don’t know any adults who got fired because they came out as straight or cisgender.

I don’t know of any heterosexual people who had to go to Canada to get married, understanding that that marriage certificate would not be valid in the United States. Remember, marriage equality was state by state until 2015.

I don’t know a single person who has been denied medical treatment or housing because they were straight or cisgender.

I recall the 1978 Gay Freedom Day. My parents watch a news clip with utter disgust. I already knew that I wasn’t straight or cisgendered. I also knew if I came out, I’d be dead. I listened to my dad talk about the “homos and pervs” – the same rhetoric we hear today. I was at that march.

I was afraid with good reason. I was outed. I left home to avoid physical assault. I lived in a garage with no electricity or water.
The same year, two gay friends were arrested in Baldwin Park for holding hands; they were beaten and thrown in jail. That is why we march. We come together and celebrate who we are so that we are visible, so those of us who fear hatred can gain strength in solidarity.

We are not mistakes, but people – and we deserve the same rights. When we say we need laws to grant us the same rights as others, it is not “extra” or “privilege” … it’s because we do not have those rights. Happy Pride. Be brave and beautiful.

Kadeth Pozzesi

Kadeth (he/him/sir) is an elder queer, artist, sorcerer, warrior poet, musician, therapist. You can find him in the world and at Rainbow, serving as a clinician. “I am everything and nothing and everything in between.”