It is the month of June and you know what the month stands for. Pride! June aka Pride Month, a month in which the existence of all genders and sexualities is celebrated. Pride month does not discriminate between any community of any gender or sexuality.
June 2020 completes 50 years of annual LGBTQ+ Pride traditions. Even during the
lockdown, social media is actively spreading love and awareness about LGBTQ+ community and facts. There are virtual marches and live sessions in some countries where lockdown still prevails and in others there are marches and outdoor celebrations as well.
HISTORY OF PRIDE MONTH
The Pride month is celebrated every year in the month of June. It is celebrated in the United States of America but has also gained popularity in other countries, in the past few years. Pride month is celebrated to acknowledge the LGBTQ+ community and promote their acceptance in the society. India is also known to celebrate the pride month. Many social media platforms are trying to promote the LGBTQ+ community even during the times of lockdown. People have started to talk more about the community and have rights to accept them and give them equal opportunities. Pride month is associated with a very rich history of the LGBTQ+ community.
On 28th June 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn bar in the morning hours. This came to be known as the Stonewall riots. Stonewall Inn was a gay bar in Greenwich village, in the New York city. Homosexual relations were not allowed in the New York city during that time. Such bars served as a refuge to the LGBT community to socialize and save away from the daily harassment. Police raiding such bars and beating up LGBT community was very common. This riot became famous because of the violent and serious encounter between the police and the gay rights activists from National and International level. Before this riot, people would usually not come out and talk about their sexual identity. After the active protests people started organising marches and parades to acknowledge and normalise LGBTQ+ existence. On the very first anniversary of the riots, 28th June 1970, people collectively gathered in the Greenwich village region to commemorate the Stonewall riots. This March is recorded as the first Gay Parade in the history. After this, many marches were organised and were termed as the Freedom day or the Gay liberation day. During that time people remained away from the marches and therefore, the participation was very sparse. A lot of them were frightened by the community and their way of dressing in glittery and atypical costumes.
INCREDIBLE FACTS ABOUT THE LGBTQ FLAG
In 1978, a parade happened in San Francisco which popularised and even started the use of rainbow colour flags for the community. Today, any gay Pride is incomplete without the use of these colours which very beautifully define the community’s existence. The colours used in the first Pride flag were: Hot Pink for sexuality, Red for life, Indigo for harmony, Orange for healing, Blue for art, Yellow for sun and Green for nature. This flag was designed by San Francisco artist, named Gilbert Baker. The same flag was used by the community to represent themselves. Later these colours which changed into the rainbow colours, Indigo was replaced by Violet. The use of this flag represents the diversity of the LGBT community. Moreover, fabric in all these colours is hard to get, and thus it was used as the perfect flag.
Initially the great Gay Pride Parade had very minimal aims and targets such as that of social acceptance. But later on, other issues started gaining importance like that of the spread of AIDS, the political and social Gay activists started taking up these issues from the perspective of the LGBT community. The history of Gay Pride has been very new. As much as time it has taken for people to recognise the rights of these sections of the society, so was the criticism they attained. Organisation of Pride Parade in the Syria faced huge opposition and resistance. Not only Syria, places like Jerusalem, Warsaw, Moscow, etc, also faced similar issues. Thankfully to neutralize this, many places such as Mexico, Amsterdam, London, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Sao Paulo and Paris supported the cause and participated generously.
DECRIMINALIZATION OF HOMOSEXUALITY IN INDIA
Indian subcontinent is known for its spirituality, religion and culture. India usually is stuck to its roots and takes good amount of time to bring about any change in the existing social system. The same happened with the existence of Gay community and acceptance towards it. Many times in the history of the Indian origin, we have seen texts like Kamasutra talking about Lesbian relationship. Several wall paintings also suggest the same. In spite of the same the country seems to not accept the community. In 2009, 150 year old article 377 of the Indian penal code was scrapped. According to this article any sexual relation which is “against the order of nature” is illegal. But it was again brought back. Two IIT students again filed petition and finally in September 2018, the act was scrapped off forever.
This June as well, the pride month is celebrated with full zest and heart. Because of the ongoing love down there will not be any right parade. But people have taken initiatives online to organise digital parades and gatherings. There are many organisations such as Nazariya LGBT, Naz Foundation, The Humsafar Trust etc. working for the same cause. It is already suspected that due to COVID-19, global poverty would increase and there is a huge chance it would affect the LGBTQ community. So, this is the perfect time to stretch out your handto show your support. The best way to celebrate Pride month is by being a volunteer or a worker or just a participant to these organisations or initiatives. Even Indian cinema has tried to celebrate the existence of of the colourful community. Many wonderful films such as “Aligarh”, “Angry Indian Goddesses”,
“Fire”, etc. have tried in the best possible way to depict the stigma in the society along with the inner emotions of a gay person. Many intellectuals, even politicians have started to talk about it. Barkha Dutt and Shashi Tharoor are some of the eminent personalities of India who have taken up the cause. Delhi is the political capital of India. For the Delhi High court to pass this historical judgement, it took a lot of guts and fight against the social stigma. But for this very brace step, thousands of LGBTQ+ lives have started feel safe in their own skin.
Even after such a brilliant history of reform, the truth is Indian society still shows resistance in accepting the LGBTQ+ community people. The best way to normalise the topics is to talk about it as much as possible. As a writer and a researcher on this topic, I feel that despite of decades of the community’s fight for social acceptance, the social stigma still prevails which beholds “straight” people accept the LGBTQ+ community’s existence. We refuse to talk about our gender and sexuality with our families. We refer to homosexuals as a different specie altogether. If we want love and acceptance for our gender, skin and sexuality, then we need to give out the same.
In addition to the above, in this Pride Month, go to your dinner table and start the conversation. Study about the various sexualities existing in the world. Some are not even named yet. Study yourself before labeling yourself as a “straight”. Accept oneself and others from whatever background, community or colour they belong to.
Know that Sab Rab de Bande hai! Wish you a Happy Pride Month