Pride Is Still For You

6/23/2018

June is officially LGBT Pride Month. Although Pride first started in the US, Pride parades and celebrations can now be found all over the world. It’s a month to celebrate:

-your sexuality (bi, lesbian, gay, pansexual, polysexual, fluid, flexual, etc.)

-your sex (intersex, etc.)

-your gender identity (transgender, genderfluid, genderqueer, bigender, drag, transvestitism, etc.)

-your lack of sexuality (asexual, aromantic, graysexual, etc.)

-your lack of gender identity (agender, gender non-conforming, etc.).

This is the month to celebrate, but do you know why?

In the 1960s, anti-LGBT legislation was common throughout the US. Police often raided establishments that catered to LGBT citizens. During these raids management and bar workers would be arrested. All patrons would be lined up, after all the lights had been turned on, and asked to show identification. Often men in drag and transvestites were arrested on the spot. Women had to be wearing at least three pieces of clothing deemed feminine for the time period or they would be arrested. If no ID was presented, that patron would also be arrested.

To counter these raids, riots and protests occurred, but none more so than those following a major raid on The Stonewall Inn in New York City, in June of 1969. Stonewall was known as the ‘it’ bar for LGBT clientele in NYC. It had gained prominence for allowing close and intimate dancing among it’s LGBT patrons, which was unheard of elsewhere. In the week leading up to the raid, Stonewall had previously just been raided, and other clubs and bars in the area had been shut down.

The police arrived at Stonewall at 1:20am on the 28th. They immediately began arresting bar patrons and taking them outside but their patrol cars hadn’t arrived in time and soon a large crowd was formed outside. A butch lesbian, who some identify as Stormé DeLarverie, was hit across the head by a police baton, because she kept escaping custody and being recaptured again and dragged through the crowd. Finally, she shouted, looking at the crowd, “Why don’t you guys do something?!” The crowd of about 100 began hurling pennies at the police, as well as other objects. Fearing for their safety, ten of the officers barricaded themselves inside the Stonewall Inn and then the crowd lit it on fire. Fire trucks came and put out the blaze and saved the police but that didn’t stop the LGBT community and the general public from rallying together in protests for the following six days.

There had been a feeling of “enough is enough” for quite awhile by then, so these riots, or rather, this uprising, established a newfound strength among the LGBT community. They weren’t going to take it anymore. Not the abuse. Not the condemnation by society. Not the archaic laws forbidding their freedom of expression. None of it. So the LGBT community fought back and the battlecry was heard nationwide. The following year several marches were planned around the US to commemorate the Stonewall Riots and to promote a sense of unified identity among the gay, lesbian, bi, and transgender communities throughout the nation.

In New York, activist Brenda Howard, who is bi, came up with the idea to have a week-long celebration surrounding the commemoration of The Stonewall Riots. She was part of a group who planned the march in New York City and Brenda was pivotal in making certain the marching event happened and was a success. Because of her efforts she is credited as being “The Mother of Pride.” We have her to thank for this time of year where we get to celebrate us being our authentic selves. In fact, she, along with fellow bi activist Stephen Donaldson (known as Donny the Punk) and gay activist L. Craig Schoonmaker, also popularized the word ‘Pride’ to describe these festivities. So the history of Pride is definitely a bi one.

So, this month, not only can we celebrate our own bisexuality but also the bi activists who paved the way for our being able to celebrate it today, in the US and abroad. You may be open with your sexuality, you may have only told a few close friends or family members, or you might be so deep in the closet you don’t even know that we have bi pride colors to represent us. So, perhaps you don’t have a clue as to how to celebrate Pride Month.

Here are five ways in which you, as a bi person, can celebrate Pride:

  1. If you are on social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, tweet and post often during Pride Month about your bisexuality. If you are not out, what a great time to finally come out. Share stories about bi people around the world. Write a blog post or two about bi issues. Don’t forget to add hashtags about your sexuality and about the month’s festivities.
  2. Find a local bi organization near you and see if they are having an event this month and then go to it. You can meet other people similar to you and share your experiences. If there isn’t a bi organizations near you, maybe try an LGBT center and get involved with them and their celebration. If you’re lucky enough to have a Pride Festival and Parade occurring near you, make it a priority to attend and show that you are visible as a bi person.
  3. When you attend these events or at any point during the month, try to wear colors reflecting the bi pride flag. They don’t have to be spot on, but the bi colors are pink, violet, and blue. Feel free to mix this up with rainbows, an ace flag, or whatever other way you wish to celebrate your identity and your orientation.
  4. If you are straight but identify as heteroflexible, open, or curious, Fluid Array Foundation, suggests you dress in a dark orange or vermilion to show your pride, especially if you are in the closet. The color represents magma and lava and although they are just as fluid as any sexuality, heteroflexible people are often more slow-moving (like lava) when it comes to being out to the world. Most of the world doesn’t know this is a color option for more straight leaning people on the bi spectrum who are in the closet, so it’s completely discreet. Don’t be afraid to shine in that orange!
  5. Be Proud! Maybe you do it quietly in your room, with a select group of friends, or by declaring it loudly in front of thousands.

Yes, it can be hard to be an LGBT person in this world. Yes, it may seem even harder to be bi, but this is a time to reflect on all the things about you and your sexuality that you deem valuable and precious. Ask yourself what you love about your sexuality. Embrace your bisexuality and remember those that have braved through a cold, stagnant world to enable us and our fluidity to flow outward and openly. Radiate all those good feelings you have about being bi; all those memories of being in love that make you beam. It’s Pride Month!

Greg Ward
Gregory Ward was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona where he resides today. He spends his time bringing awareness to the local scene and helping bi folk. He loves movies, astronomy, and the Irish language. He founded Fluid Arizona which is an active bi+ community that can be found on Facebook and Twitter, and is a big proponent of the #stillbisexual campaign.