What is Pride Like in a Pandemic?


Labiba Anjumi Kabir


Pride often means waving pastel flags, overpriced events, big parades, and rainbow-coloured swag. However, the coronavirus pandemic this year has put a stop to large social gatherings, parades, and other events, but that definitely doesn’t mean that Pride itself is cancelled.

Unlike every other year, the hyper-commercialisation of Rainbow capitalism did not pan out as planned because of events getting postponed and cancelled. But as Pride and the Black Lives Matter movement collide in 2020, it’s worth remembering that the LGBTQ+ rights movement owes its very being to riots led by people of colour. And it’s important to honour and remember that now more than ever.

The Gay Rights Movement, the rallying cry for rudimentary human rights, stemmed from the doctrine of equal rights, safety, and protection against police brutality for transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and gender non-conforming people. 

Between navigating Covid-19 and the crucial Black Lives Matter movement, Pride is different this year, yet more relevant than ever. Pride came to actualisation as a riot 51 years ago at Stonewall, spearheaded by queer, trans, black, indigenous people of colour [QTBIPOC]. LGBTQ+ issues and racial issues are not mutually exclusive. 

On 28 June, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a meeting place for LGBTQ+ New Yorkers. When they demanded to do sex verification checks on trans women, a spontaneous protest broke out, and at the vanguard of those protests were trans women of colour like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, people of the QTBIPOC community. They believed intersectionality underpinned the movement. The fight was never about just one community, it has always been about the extensive community and they hoped and advocated for people to realise how extensive the “umbrella” of transgender identities was.

This year’s Pride is less about rainbow-capitalism and overpriced events and more about coming together as a community to celebrate and honour our LGBTQIA+ family, and fight inequality at its core.

Pride has definitely been different this year, but it might just have held more meaning than ever. This year, pride meant standing up against the violence and police brutality the Black community faces every single day, and fighting against the system that was constructed to oppress them and all people of colour. Queer people of colour navigate a complicated network of systemic oppression and injustice from the very beginning. They were told to back down again and again because it just was not their time. Intersectionality is at the core of activism, and we simply cannot be in support of everyone in a community by leaving someone out.

Pride itself owes its existence to riots and protests, and it took radical acts of change to sanction the conversation about LGBTQ+ issues around the globe. Pride has always been a riot. But the community never took the party away. Obviously, due to the Covid-19 lockdown, that was not the case, and fortuitously, it shed light onto more systemic and racial issues than ever. But this year, pride was more about hope and honouring the identities of every individual of the community.

 


Labiba is a postmillennial chaotic neutral who obsesses over memes and Netflix. 

 

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