It’s Pride Month—And This Is Why We Need it

by Amber Leventry

It drives me absolutely batshit bonkers when someone says: Why do we need a whole month to celebrate queer people? Or Why isn’t there straight pride month?

Okay, deep breath. Here’s why: It’s because every fucking day is, by default, straight pride.

Straight people are already proud. They don’t need allies. They don’t need to fight for their right to get married or to have children. Straight people don’t look around to see if it’s okay to hold the hand of someone they love. Straight people don’t have to defend their relationships, plead for rights, or worry about their rights and protections being taken away. No one hates people because they are straight. These privileges are taken for granted.

Every June, LGBTQ+ people take to the streets. We put aside our fears and remember the brave people who stood up to hate after the policed raided The Stonewall Inn in New York City in 1968. We wave our flags, show our hearts, and demand equality with a fevered need to be accepted. We are united by the colors of the rainbow and feel the strength of our community.

We come out of closets, propose to the ones we love, and push our babies in strollers. We flood social media with rainbows and hashtags. We blast the world with visual reminders of our beautiful love and our gorgeous families. We thank the ones who have come before us and remind the younger generations behind us that there is still so much more work to be done.

We use Pride Month as a way to be seen. We harness the momentum of the sometimes stalled equal rights movement and show off our pride. Pride is not just about equality; it is about acceptance. Sometimes it takes a long time for LGBTQ+ people to accept themselves and to know where they fit in. It may take family members longer to accept our truth, if at all.

And it feels like it is taking forever for society as a whole to accept people like me. I am not just gay. I am queer. I am gender nonconforming. I play in the fluidity of my gender. I do not fit into any box, but with the queer community, I fit right in. I am at home.

Let me be very clear: Every month — heck, every day, every minute — should celebrate sexual diversity, with a focus on equal rights and self-affirmation. However, most days and months out of the year are reserved for heteronormative messages and images for and full of cisgender straight folks. LGBTQ+ people are severely underrepresented — a fact that frustrates, maddens, and disappoints me. Shopping for gifts for my partner means sifting through stereotypical and gendered products and images of men and women smiling at each other like lovesick fools as if love only exists for male-female presenting couples.

Designing a family Christmas card on a popular photo site means looking at stock images of straight people and their kids. Movies feature straight characters. The genres are different, the sexuality is the same. Gay characters appear as tokens and clichés. It’s the same with books and advertisements. I am continuously replacing a figure and inserting myself into a picture that does not exist.

My kids see these images too. And as they get older, they are starting to notice their differences when they compare themselves to their friends’ families and to the families in their books and cartoons. But when we are at a Pride event, they see families like ours all day long. For one day, they are the majority. And it takes my breath away. I am moved to tears each time we march in the parade and are cheered for being who we are. I cannot rightfully express the overwhelming feelings of acceptance and love and pride.

So much of what I and other queer people do and who we are represents the best of humanity in this world. Many people can’t or don’t want to see that. They see and disapprove of our differences. Religions, businesses, media, and sports teams throw stones or avoid us all together. If it’s not God talking, it’s money. When the majority (read: straight bigots and passive-aggressive haters) speaks, we are ignored. And when LGBTQ+ people are ignored, it is hard for people to see us as equal. It is really fucking hard to be normalized—to even feel normal—when everywhere I look is covered with pictures and stories of straight men and women, their kids, and their privileged lives.

Here’s the thing: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, gender fluid and nonbinary folks are not celebrated every day, or even often. We are cast aside as misfits, deviants, and perverts. We are avoided, harassed, and killed for loving who we love and for being true to ourselves. We are stripped of our rights, dignity, and lives because we don’t follow the “rules” of society. We live in closets, in hiding, and in fear because our courts still allow bakers to deny us cakes for our weddings.

We go about our days with a vice president who would rather hang queer people than let them live in peace. We live in a country where anti-LGBTQ+ lawmakers are continuously and repeatedly placed in positions that jeopardize marriage, job security, health care, and the safety of LGBTQ+ people—people like me and so many people I love. We live in a country where people voted for a man who marched around on stage with a rainbow flag to win favors but then made it his job to destroy it once he became president. He takes away our rights and defends our discrimination. He might not acknowledge Pride, but he makes us cling tighter to our colors and be more proud of who we are.

LGBTQ+ people navigate our days and lives around people who constantly tell us we are different, not normal, and not okay.

For one month out of the year, festivals, parades, and events all over the country become our venue to celebrate and congregate. Buildings are lit up in rainbow colors. Businesses and lawmakers show us support through their products and promises. Our allies proudly tell our haters to fuck off. Pride month is our way to refuel. It is a colorful time to celebrate love and identity. It is a time to feel safe and free. Pride is when we fly our flags high and tell the world love will always win.

Pride month is when we roll our eyes at the people who wonder why there isn’t a straight pride. It’s when we remind folks just how nice they have it to not need a straight pride. The straight lifestyle is celebrated every day. Straight rights and protection of families, homes, and jobs are assumed. Images of straight, cisgender people are everywhere. Heteronormative language and ideas are not at risk when LGTBQ+ ask for respect, representation, equal rights.

The only risk is inclusion and an invite to the best parties in town. Because when it comes to Pride, the queers know how to celebrate.