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Pride Month: more than rainbows and marketing tactics

This June, Walls Project challenged our team to reflect on the concept of Pride Month and then share their thoughts if they were willing. Their responses revealed a plethora of strong opinions, forward-thinking ideas and so many ways to support the LGBTQ+ community.

As we enter our next 10 years as a nonprofit, the Walls is a work in progress and evolving every day. We strive to continuously improve as we learn more about the best ways to pour into the communities we wholeheartedly support and love.

We encourage you to support LGBTQ+ businesses and organizations not just during Pride Month, but in June and beyond. Read below to dive into this inspiring and insightful conversation and let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Thomas Donley

Why is it important to have a Pride month (especially in 2022)?

Having worked for the largest LGBTI member organization in Europe for five years, I was able to see and hear the inspiring and troubling stories of many people throughout Europe and Central Asia on why Pride is imperative for their country's advocacy and building local communities.

For so many people it takes a lot of courage to attend a Pride parade. And it isn't just activists, allies, and people from the community that take part in Pride. It is parents, family friends, and others who want to show their neighbors, politicians, and community they take pride in everyone.

Being a middle-aged, gendered white male, I know my role is to be supportive — and that support can be applied in many ways. From providing operational capacity to nonprofits, donating time and money, and using inclusive language on a day-to-day basis.

SK Groll

How do you celebrate Pride Month? /How are you celebrating LGBTQ+ people this month?

I’m not so sure that I celebrate Pride month anymore. There are more reasons for this than I can list, but I’ll name a few.

My existence as a queer person, a trans person, is not limited to one month of the year. More than pride, I feel a sense of precarity, like everything that gets celebrated as “progress” can be swept away at a moment’s notice. As long as “progress” exists in what other people, institutions, and structures of power will “give” then progress can always be undone when those same entities take something back. I have felt despair at perceived and real losses- the loss of rights, of access, of privilege, of resources- for myself and my communities.

When this feeling is palpable and overwhelming, I return to community. I return to spaces where I see queer and trans people surviving and thriving, creating lives and families with this beautiful, magical alchemy, writing new scripts for our existence and unearthing timeless ways of being beyond modern categories which a dominant culture tries its hardest to silence and sweep under a rug. Queer and Trans people have existed since time immemorial, here in Louisiana and around the world. Progress is neither guaranteed nor linear. Neither is our joy, our delight, our love, our survival. Still, I am committed to all these things.

The good of Pride month, for me, is in communion, gathering, and sharing. WE know how to do this and provide for each other year-round, not just in June. WE know the deep love, reward, joy, sweat, and commitment of laboring for each other when everyone else goes silent, and moves on to the next focus-of-the-month.

I viscerally tensed up on June 1 when I saw the first “Happy Pride Month” post from an org that had been doing lukewarm work throughout the year.

The commitment to learning about 2SLGBTQIA identities cannot start and stop in June. Show me your organization’s visible calls for housing and employment protections in August. Show me your commitment to pay equity for all people in October. Show me your gender-neutral bathrooms and professional development workshops about inclusive language in January. Show me that you’ll speak up with us at the legislature in April and May when politicians try to score cheap shots as they codify violence against queer and trans people in this state. Show me rooms where allies are doing their own learning and unlearning, raising the stakes and calling each other in. Show me a workplace where queer people don’t have to constantly educate our colleagues, excuse misgendering, and accept less than we are worth. Show me that we can say the names of Black Trans women murdered here in Baton Rouge (Rest in Power Keeva Scatter). Show me that we can protect Black Trans women HERE in Baton Rouge and give them their flowers while they are alive. Show me that we can connect all of the other issues that our organizations care about, that we are collectively invested in, to an understanding of intersectionality which includes queer and trans identity.

It’s a jarring experience to feel like institutions, people, structures of power are not doing the work 335 days out of the year, but pick 30 of those days to head-fake towards inclusion, and slap a rainbow logo on their social media.

Why is it important to have a Pride month (especially in 2022)?

Dear Baton Rouge, Louisiana: I want Pride Year. I want Rage Year. I want a Year of LGBTQ+ People Taking Naps. I want the Year of Saying Gay, Queer, Trans. I do not know that it is important to me to have Pride Month if nothing is different on July 1st.

Who's one LGBTQ+ person, organization, business, or issue that you want to shine a light on this month?

TIDAL, Louisiana Trans Oral History Project, Forum For Equality, Southerners On New Ground, Beloved, Last Call, BreakOUT, Louisiana Trans Advocates, Real Name Campaign, Women With a Vision, so so so so so many more. We are here, ALL throughout this city and this state, doing everything we can to hold each other and lift each other up.

Morgan Udoh

How do you celebrate Pride Month? /How are you celebrating LGBTQ+ people this month?

I celebrate PRIDE similarly to Black History Month… 365. The media I consume, the small businesses I buy from, and the voices I magnify are all intentionally BIPOC and Queer-focused. I make it a point to seek out diverse experiences and community leaders to continue learning more about the communities that I am a part of.

Why is it important to have a Pride month (especially in 2022)?

I think it’s still a relevant celebration for those that are just now entering the space. As a transplant, it took years before I felt safe enough to be myself after leaving the safety of my chosen queer family in college. Sometimes these events are our only chance to feel safe, honored, and free. Specifically thinking of families and individuals who are just now stepping into their identity and need the safety of these larger events in order to find their initial community and express themselves freely, many for the very first time. People think that just because corporations have started to monetize pride, it’s a free for all. It is still very dangerous to be our full selves publicly and privately for many of my LGBTQIA peers. Especially in conservative southern or midwestern areas.

Who's one LGBTQ+ person, organization, business, or issue that you want to shine a light on this month?

So many great organizations locally and nationally have already been named by my colleagues. I would just like to encourage people to connect to their local and regional mutual aid organizations online. Social media, despite all of its ills, is a lifeline to many in the community and with the direction that many states are heading in with horrifically anti-Trans, misogynist, and bigoted bills, we will need to build strong personal networks to safeguard and support one another through the years ahead. We cannot rely on structures to save us. We have to save ourselves.

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