By Melissa Alexander
Pride in 2020 might seem a little different than past years but on closer examination, it really isn’t. Pride is about struggle. It always has been, whether individually or in the community at large. I am a transgender woman and a lesbian and these are my individual identifications and my challenges. All of us have our individual and group struggles. Long ago, I made the decision to “come out” and live my life authentically instead of the lie which had defined my life for decades. I was warned by others in my community that such decision would create vast challenges, including the loss of family and friends, and blowing up my career. They were right. I was fired from work. Friends and family abandoned me. My children carved me completely out of their lives and have not reconnected. I realized that being white, I carried a privilege which helped me resurrect another career and that many in my community who lacked that privilege, struggle even to find work.
People often forget that Pride started as a riot at Stonewall largely instigated by a transgender woman of color –not as some colorful parade of festivities. Sadly, many have also forgotten that the past decades have seen the brutal murders of transgender women of color in horrific numbers. They forget that the LGBTQ community battled the AIDS epidemic for decades, a disease that has killed almost 800,000 Americans since the 1980s. We forget that white people brought diseases to this country that decimated the indigenous population all while their native lands were stolen from them.
We are in the midst of the greatest health pandemic in a century, which has killed 113,000 Americans and brought about our steepest job loss since the Great Depression. Protests are raging throughout every city in our land over the murders of black men and women at the hands of law enforcement, following centuries of systemic racism. These problems are real and intersect throughout our communities. Racial equality, LGBTQ equality and indigenous rights are intertwined. We all struggle and we always must support each other. We do all of this as a reminder of what Pride is: a fight to ensure that all people regardless of their race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender identity or where they are from are free, equal and afforded the dignity and rights which everyone deserves. Struggle On! Black Lives Matter! You are on occupied land. Happy Pride!