What Pride Month Means To Us!

Happy 2023 Pride!

June is Pride Month, a cause for celebration for the queer community and our allies. The word “pride” is typically associated with notions of honor, respect, dignity, and appreciation of one’s achievements. From my perspective, Pride Month means so much more than a few words or notions. Pride is love and resilience, Pride is acceptance and affirmation, and Pride is wholeheartedly living in one’s truth! Pride Month gives us the ability to be seen, create a sense of community, find support in our allies, and be a source of empowerment to those who need it most.

The queer community is marginalized, treated as insignificant or peripheral, and people who are LGBTQIA2+ often face discrimination, violence, and hatred. This has been especially true for trans people and Black and Brown people that have intersecting LGBTQIA2+ identities. Part of the issue stems from unawareness and lack of understanding. HCAM reached out to Carlos Alexis Turcios, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s (UMBC’s) Assistant Director for The Pride Center, to share his expertise and help us to define the ever-evolving acronym that refers to the expansive community:

Carlos Alexis Turcios (He/Él) Assistant Director for The Pride Center for LGBTQIA2+ Well-Being with Initiatives for Identity, Inclusion & Belonging at UMBC

LGBTQIA2+: (Noun) The acronym that includes Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Aromantic, 2-Spirit, and other “+” underrepresented sexual orientations, romantic orientations, gender identities, and expressions.

The acronym that I use in my day-to-day life has expanded over the years. First as LGBT, then LGBTQ+, and most recently to the one that I have shared above. Although it may be a mouthful of who we are as a community, I believe that adding these particular identities to the acronym disrupt the notion that identities are solely social (i.e. intersex), are a mental illness or deviance (i.e. asexual, aromantic), that queer identities are something new and/or exclusively Western (i.e. 2-Spirit), and that somehow we have reached the final iteration of our acronym (i.e. +). The beauty of this acronym is that just like our identities, they are fluid and can change over time.”

Members of society have increasingly realized that queerness is a part of humanity and that their coworkers, neighbors, friends, and loved ones may openly or privately identify as LGBTQIA2+. With more exposure and visibility of our queer identities and lives, we’ve continued to gain allies who have actively joined the fight for our freedoms and rights. Vanessa G., one of HCAM’s valued Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee members shared her thoughts on Pride and allyship:

“Pride is walking into every room as my true self without hiding parts of who I am. This is possible because of people like James Baldwin & Audre Lorde who stood in their truth and led a movement. Pride Month is a celebration of love, freedom, authenticity and honoring our differences.

Celebrating Pride is an opportunity to be an ally; this year I’m celebrating by donating to a local nonprofit that supports at risk persons in the Trans community.”

Pride is more than a parade. It’s about more than rainbow decorations. Pride is about people and movements. Leaders like Marsha P. Johnson & Sylvia Rivera fought against continued harassment by taking a stand for queer rights as part of the Gay Liberation Movement in the 1969 Stonewall Uprisings. These were women who had the least agency, but displayed the most courage as members of the community that were not only Black and Brown, but also trans and self-proclaimed drag performers. In 2023, the transgender community and the art of drag are under siege and it’s a great reminder that we all need to stand together to uplift justice as Marsha, Sylvia, and other trailblazers have before us.

As June approaches its end, I call on you to do the following – highlight LGBTQIA2+ figures, promote inclusivity, fight for legal protections and social change, amplify queer voices, and advocate for a more equitable and affirming society. You are appreciated and you are loved!

Links & Resources:

Celebrate Pride With Us: Without Exception! – Human Rights Campaign (hrc.org)

GLAAD Media Reference Guide – LGBTQ Terms

Glossary of Terms: LGBTQ – GLAAD

LGBTQIA Pride Month 2023: Documentaries, Meaning, History & More | PBS

Marsha P. Johnson & Sylvia Rivera (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)

Maryland Pride Events | VisitMaryland.org

The Trevor Project | For Young LGBTQ Lives

*This blog post was written by HCAM’s Director of Training, Equity & Inclusion, Joshua Morris*

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