Select cities, companies and sports teams were notably more colourful in June, adopting the rainbow to express their support of Pride Month.
As inclusive and progressive as the month can be, it also serves as a reminder as to why displays of support like this are still needed in 2019.
Pride Month itself was formed to commemorate the Stonewall riots, which were a series of demonstrations held by members of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer (LGBTQ) community in response to a police raid that took place June 28, 1969 in New York City. NYPD officers were attempting to enforce a law that made it illegal to serve alcohol to known homosexuals. Earlier this month, 50 years after the incident, NYPD commissioner James O’Neill formally apologized to the LGBTQ community.
Progress has been made in the last 50 years. Here at home, Canada became the first country outside of Europe to legalize same sex marriage in 2005. Some 14 years later, the country hasn’t fallen apart, nor has the institution of marriage, as some naysayers predicted. Earlier this month Greater Napanee council voted to officially recognize Pride Month with plans for a bigger show of support in 2020.
Still, one only need to read the comment section on any Pride Month related content to see not everyone accepts love is love.
A 2010 student conducted by Scanlon, Travers, Coleman, Bauer and Boyce indicated 47 per cent of trans youth surveyed in Ontario had contemplated suicide, while 19 per cent had attempted it. A 2009 study by the Massachusetts Department of Education indicated LGBTQ youth were four times more likely to attempt suicide as compared to their heterosexual peers. Teens struggle with rejection from family and friends who aren’t accepting of their lifestyle and can feel overwhelmed with nowhere to turn.
Cynics may say companies that openly show support during June, perhaps adding rainbow colours to their official logo, are only doing so for financial gain. However even today, a show of support for the LGBTQ community is a risk of alienating a certain section of consumers who will boycott. There are others who say companies shouldn’t offer a stance at all and stay out of politics altogether. The issue with that is human rights aren’t a partisan issue and the more people to speak up for equality, the more people will feel comfortable in being themselves.
Not everyone will be comfortable with celebrating love that is different than their own. But that doesn’t excuse the persecution of those who just want to be themselves. The more municipalities, companies, sports teams, athletes, politicians, celebrities and just ordinary people to fly the rainbow flag, the more normalized it will become.