Pride, the fight of our lives

Tenley Jackson, Columnist

Fifty-four years ago, the first “Gay Pride” parade took to the streets of New York City as a direct resistance to the crushing shame forced onto the LGBTQ+ community. With recent legislative attacks in Texas, it’s more important than ever to recognize Pride for what it is: an ongoing protest for the rights to our own lives.

Just this year, Texas lawmakers passed legislation banning puberty blockers and hormone therapy for transgender kids, restricting the college sports teams that trans athletes can join and preventing LGBTQ+ education in public schools. As LGBTQ+ allies, we can engage in Pride this month by amplifying LGBTQ+ voices, advocating for queer-friendly spaces and voting for policies that minimize harm and maximize equality. 

Social work sophomore Shana Richards noticed the instability of queer rights in the state when she moved to Texas from Washington.

“Gay marriage got legalized when we were eleven, so pretty much my whole teenage life, I never really worried about that,” Richards said. “But nowadays, especially seeing Roe v. Wade get overturned, these laws aren’t necessarily concrete.”

The reality is that Texas remains a potentially dangerous and hostile environment for queer people. In the first week of June, the Human Rights Campaign even issued a national state of emergency for LGBTQ+ Americans. Amidst this emergency, Texas remains one of the top ten worst states for queer families. 

“It’s kind of like a reminder,” Richards said. “Of how far we’ve come, but also how there needs to be more work done.”

Part of that work is showing queer joy without shame, meeting hate with love — remembering those who empowered us to know it. Pride started as, has always been, and will always be a necessary protest

“Something I’ve been thinking about is that Pride Month comes right before the Fourth of July, when we celebrate our freedoms and our rights,” Richards said. “That’s also a moment of reflection. I would like to see our country get to a place where those rights are accessible to everyone.”

James Scott is the editor of The Austin Chronicle’s “Qmmunity” section, a space for queer news and events. He spoke on attending protests and events regarding SB-14, a bill that banned gender-affirming care for trans youth. 

“It is remarkable how much community you can see as people come around a common cause,” Scott said. “I have tons of fun at the parties, but they only gain meaning, camaraderie and togetherness through the fact that we’re all connected in that shared fight for our right to exist as human beings with respect.” 

Pride is more than rainbow crosswalks and glitter paint.  It’s about protecting autonomy and humanity. It’s about recognizing that some today still believe that they are better off dead than being themselves. From The Trevor Project, 42% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in 2021, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth. This is a fight we can’t afford to lose — not when our friends, families and children are at stake. 

This pride, celebrate loudly and love each other deeply, but never forget that pride was born from shame. It’s more than a party; it’s the fight for our lives. 

Jackson is a Plan II and journalism sophomore from Boerne, Texas.