Visibility Matters: Why We Celebrate Pride Month in Idaho



Think of someone that means the world to you. Your lover, your truest friend, your children, your sibling; there are no wrong answers here. Next, I want you to pick a number between one and five. When you choose your number, I want you to continue thinking of those people. One: gay, Two: bisexual, Three: transgender, Four: asexual, and Five: gender fluid. I invite you to close your eyes and imagine this new identity that lasts just for the moments you read this article. Are you still allowed inside your church? Does your best friend look at you the same? Do your parents still maintain the relationship they had with you when you were not this identity? Are there any added anxieties to going to the store with your partner or walking down the street? Do you feel safe at work? Do you feel any less safe in general?


I ask these questions not to be extreme, but to invite a deeper understanding than what we know within our own experience. June is a month that many people eagerly await because it is a time of celebrating victories. Others dread the month because it has been capitalized upon. And to some, it is a time they feel they still cannot escape the hardship of who they are because somewhere, someone will be protesting their right to exist in this world much more blatantly and loudly than usual.


The history as to why Pride is a celebration goes back quite a ways, even prior to the Stonewall Riots- a more familiar and popularized story amongst the LGBTQIA+ Community. Before Stonewall, there were riots in California that were the result of backlash against openly LGBTQIA+ folk. Stonewall, however, is the most well-known riot and is what led to the existence of Pride today.


In 1969 on June 28 police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club that was located in Greenwich Village in New York. The raid sparked a riot as the police roughly kicked the people inside onto the streets, resulting in six days of protests outside of the bar. The raid and protests launched the Gay Rights Movement in the US. The year following the raid, there was a march in Central Park which carried the theme of gay pride and as more years passed, more and more cities began having their own marches, leading to the massive celebration known as Pride today.


To this day, there is still a movement toward radical acceptance of those that do not identify as straight or cis-gendered. Some states do not have laws protecting against discrimination of LGBTQ folk in the workplace, trans people do not have equal access to healthcare, adoption is an endless obstacle, hate crimes are fully legal, and equal opportunity to housing and education is nonexistent. To most people who are not affected by such things, these statements are just that; words that fall into an article and numbers that make up stats. These numbers and laws are not just that, though. They are an impact on people’s lives who struggle day to day to simply exist as others in this world can.


Specific to Idaho, there are no LGBTQ-friendly statewide laws or policies present for orientation or gender identity when it comes to hate crimes, transgender healthcare inclusion, employment, housing, education, adoption, foster care, insurance, trans health benefits for state employees, or anti-bullying acts. These are the very reasons Pride is celebrated and it is why it will be celebrated in Idaho this year. Because people with different gender identities than those assigned at birth, live here. People who date the same gender exist here. People who are terrified to be themselves because of the reaction of others, suffer here. And those who are loudly themselves reside here, encouraging others it’s ok to be yourself and equality is a constant fight we are in for until the day it arrives for all.


Pride exists because for one month out of the year, people feel a bit more visible than the other 11. It exists because so many people have been murdered for being who they are. Because gay and trans homeless youth is at an all-time high. Pride is celebrated because people in this world do not want to hide. It exists because, at the end of the day, everyone deserves a quality of life.


At the closing of this article, you may have the privilege to put the number you received at the beginning back where you found it. That is not the reality for many. Instead, that identity is carried and the impact on relationships, whether good or bad, is often left as is.


So the next time you find yourself tucking your pride flag behind your bookshelf because you aren’t out to your parents, please know there is hope. The next time you find yourself scoffing at the idea that there is a whole month dedicated to a people group, remember that pride is not a silly festival that places the queer community above all other people; it is a celebration of all that has been overcome and all that is still to be done. It's visibility for those who simply desire to coexist in the world with everyone like all humans, they are worthy of just that.



Sources:

Baume, Matt. History of Pride, them.org. 25 June 2020

“Human Rights Campaign,” State score card- Idaho, 2021. https://www.hrc.org/resources/state-scorecards/idahohow

Safe Zone Project




About Morgen Buck:


Passionate about creative writing, Morgen plans to speak to the topics she cares most about including mental health, human rights, advocacy, and person-to-person connection.


Morgen's hope with volunteering with the NIPA is that the bridge that divides people can be diminished through creating safe spaces for people to ask questions and challenge their thinking as well as encouraging new connections and relationships.


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