One of the most common questions I have been asked around this time of year is "Why Pride?" I think we can all answer that if we think of our own lives. When you do something with passion like running a marathon, earn a degree, raise kids, build a career and you reflect back - you have PRIDE.
For the LGBTQ+ community, what might seem like a simple act to many (that of accepting yourself) is hard. Society is not built to encourage anything about being LGBTQ+ (religion, family norms, etc.). So, when an LGBTQ+ person FINALLY accepts themselves as they are, and we look back at that struggle we feel PRIDE.
That person has not only accepted it for oneself, but then that person must then figure out how to tell their families, friends, acquaintances, and co-workers - which really becomes a life of “coming out”. A friend used to tell me, “Well no one at work needs to know”. I would explain “but how can I tell them what I did on the weekend without sharing I was on a date with Robert?”
PRIDE also celebrates straight allies and their struggles for self-acceptance which while not identical are similar. So, if you are Cuban-American and think back to all the struggles just to speak your language freely and start over in a foreign country - there is PRIDE.
The rainbow pride flag is the universal symbol for the LGBTQ+ community. It represents through the imagery of the rainbow that moment of self-acceptance and of “coming out”. The colors don’t represent people (that’s a common mistake). They represent aspects of life like healing, life, sun, nature, harmony, and spirit. Because everyone (all colors, identities, and people) goes through moments of self-acceptance in identifying, the flag includes ALL people by experience and not by specific identity (Black/Brown/etc.).
The flag also commemorates the Stonewall Riots which was the first time the LGBTQ+ community stood up to the establishment and fought for equal treatment and basic protections.
As a community we have come a long way since Stonewall and many of the people responsible for ushering in equality of opportunity and protection were those quiet, hard workers that silently moved our protections and recognition forward (activists, volunteers, attorneys, allies).
During PRIDE month we try to honor and commemorate our past, reflect on the journey, and celebrate the future of the movement.
Today, the LGBTQ+ community can marry, which means it has over 1.000 benefits and protections it did not have before marriage. The community is on the verge of solidifying and having all the same basic protections as all other groups through the Equality Act (currently in Congress). It is important to note that as a community no one has ever been in favor of any special kind of right, people just want the same protections as those that exist based on color, religion etc. for everyone else.
So come to Little Havana and make sure to check with Gay 8 Festival in February. Make sure to look around and you will see all colors, ages, backgrounds, all kinds of expressions of who people are - everyone drinking, eating, dancing, and having fun TOGETHER. Make sure to take it all in, and then think of that rainbow.
The idea that all of us who come from quite different experiences and backgrounds can share a moment and space where we are having fun and enjoying each other is PRIDE. Because that’s not easy to achieve, much less in Miami-Dade County. HAPPY PRIDE!! OH… and make sure to bring “abuela”. 🙂