This year we in Columbus, and across Central Ohio, recognize 41 years of leading the Ohio community in the celebration and recognition of the LGBTQIA+ community across Central Ohio.
We must know our history; so as not to repeat errors of the past. We must know our history; so as to celebrate and recognize those who have come before us and fought to make this moment possible.
The 1969 Stonewall Uprisings were protests against police brutality; but more so protests representative of the communal frustration against the injustices enacted on a people: the LGBTQIA community. The theme of the Stonewall Columbus 2022 Pride Festival and March is “The People’s Pride: Pride Belongs to the People”.
In the state of Ohio, our community can still be denied or evicted from housing or fired from our jobs just because of our sexual orientation or gender identity, so it is important for us to stand up and make our voices be heard. We stand ever firmly in line with the BIPoC members of our community, we stand shoulder to shoulder with our transgender community members, of all ages, we stand at the ready to uplift and make space for all members of our LGBTQIA+ community and all our communities that demand inclusion, full enfranchisement, and equality before the law.
Stonewall is doing to work to remind our communities, queer and not queer, that our Pride is about the PEOPLE. It’s about the marginalized, unseen, under-appreciated, under-serviced identities in our LGBTQIA+ community who have to continue to fight for equity and equality and it is about celebrating and honoring those who have fought to get us here; those who risked, and risk, their lives simply by living their truth.
The audacity of hope.
We stand in a moment of shared history when queer identities are being attacked, in particular youth identities, and we must do the work of being supportive adults who understand their experience–and while cliche, it is true that young people are our future. Children and young people are unable to create spaces for themselves—adults have made it that way. We are in a period of history when the spaces that were created for young people to be safe are under attack.
Adults created gender constructs; adults created racism. Now that we know better…we must do better.
We know that when we see reflections of ourselves in places such as education and popular culture, that we find a deeper understanding of who we are and what we’re about.
This is why we fight to be seen.
During the month of June we are often reminded that some of our various identities rest in spaces of privilege and soar differently; while there are many in our queer community that are underprivileged and some who have even lost their lives. Those of us with any modicum of privilege must allow those without to take space and be seen; those with privilege must be ok with using whatever privilege we have to uplift those who have less privilege.
When we, who have privilege and agency in spaces, are able to make those spaces safe for others who must exist in these spaces it is the work we must do–we must be accomplices.
We, adults, must remember what it was like to be a child dependent on the protection of our parents; of the adults making the rules. As a queer community we should understand the need for accomplices who help move our fight forward—as a queer community we must do better at being accomplices to the identities that exist in our intersectional movement. As a queer community we must remember that at the center of our fight for equality, equity, and liberation are the people–past, present, and future.
This moment in our history when LGBTQ+ youth identities are being attacked we must do the work of being supportive adults who understand their experience. As queer adults we must also do that work for the adult identities in our community as well.
Stonewall’s annual in-person Pride march and events are considered one of the largest Pride celebrations of its kind in the Midwest—last when we gathered, in 2019, an estimated 800,000 people were welcomed to the Central Ohio region! Our Pride events are an opportunity–an opportunity for our community to be seen, to connect, and to find resources and services that are life affirming–even life saving.
The Stonewall Columbus Pride march and events have long been crucial fundraising tools that aim to fund Stonewall’s programs and operations in support of the community. Funds raised at Pride events support Stonewall’s work to “increase visibility, inclusion, and connection for the LGBTQ+ community” so we see “an Ohio where all of us thrive.”
Our shared experiences as LGBTQIA+ identities unite us in our story; however it should be our individual right for happiness that binds us in our fight for equality, equity, and liberation. We know that at our core each of us wants to be seen as valued individuals who are part of a larger community–a community that sees us and respects our individuality.
We are here today because of the generations before us who fought and sacrificed to get us here–who created spaces for us to be seen. Be proud of who you are, be proud of the changes you’ve made, be proud of the changes you’ve yet to make, celebrate those who have come before, make spaces safe for those who will come after and in this moment live out loud and be proud because Pride belongs to the people!