I’m Jenna (she/her) and I’m a queer-identified provider at The NEST. June is Pride month, and although many parades and parties have been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, LGBTQIA+ people all over the world are still celebrating our communities and their histories.
It Started with a Rebellion
Last year marked the 40th anniversary of Pride. Although today’s Pride celebrations are covered with smiling faces and rainbows, Pride didn’t start with a parade. The first Pride was a rebellion and protest against unjust targeting and brutality from police. Late one June night, police officers raided a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn in New York City, targeting and arresting trans women, as was common given anti-gay legislation at the time. As the police became more violent and forceful, protestors began to fight back and take a stand against police discrimination and violence toward the LGBTQAI+ community. They had had enough! The two nights of Stonewall rebellion sparked the creation and mobilization of organizations all over the country to fight for LGBTQAI+ rights and civil liberties and push back against heteronormative and cisgender-centering assumptions, laws, and regulations. Known today as the beginning of the modern civil rights movement for LGBTQIA+ folks, the protests were primarily led by trans women of color, including the amazing Marsha P. Johnson and the wonderful Miss Major Griffin-Gracy.
Although this protest is often pointed to as the beginning of modern Pride celebrations, people have been protesting for LGBTQIA+ rights before and after 1968.
Growing our Communities
While exact numbers are hard to find, polls estimate that around 20% of Millennials (people born 1981-1996) and around 33% of Gen Z (people born 1997-2012) identify as LGBTQAI+. And given the history of invalidation, harassment, and violence experienced by people from these communities, these numbers likely underrepresent how many people actually identify this way given that some choose to stay closeted for safety reasons.
More than a Rainbow
The rainbow has become a synonymous symbol for LGBTQIA+ rights and inclusion. But did you know that the original rainbow flag, created by Gilbert Baker in 1978 for a San Francisco Pride event, was meant to be symbolic at every color of the rainbow?
Red symbolizes Life
Orange symbolizes Healing
Yellow symbolizes the Sun
Green symbolizes Nature
Blue symbolizes Harmony
Purple symbolizes Spirit
There also used to be two additional colors: Aqua (which symbolized art) and Pink (which symbolized sexuality).
The LGBTQAI+ movement is often critiqued as not being inclusive or accepting of LGBTQAI+ people of color. In response, there have been expanded versions of the Pride flag, including the flag pictured below, which was unveiled at the 2017 Pride Celebration in Philadelphia. The addition of the Black and Brown stripe was intended to show commitment to inclusion and representation of people of color in the LGBTQAI+ movement and communities, as well as honor their role in the history of our communities.
Recently the flag has recently been redesigned by Portland-based designer, Daniel Quasar, in an attempt to expand and integrate the full experiences of all queer and trans folks. It incorporates both the rainbow pride flag and the trans pride flag, originally created by Monica Helms in 1999. The blue and pink colors represent the gender binary and the white represents nonbinary and gender non-conforming people.
Happy Pride Month, Everyone!
by, Jenna Wieden, PhD, LP
Clinical Psychologist at The NEST Clinic