By Devin Hernandez, TYRC Youth Ambassador
PRIDE month gives the spotlight to our Two Spirit and LGBT+ relatives. It is a set time where we recognize our relatives in an open and loving way, in hopes of uplifting them and building a bigger sense of community. Often, people ask why do they (the LGBT+/Two Spirit community) need a whole month? The answer varies between many people, but I’ll be discussing my ideas here with hopes of opening eyes and hearts.
In the early morning on June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn- a bar known for being a predominately gay bar, sparking one of the biggest LGBT+ movements in history. These riots were started in retaliation to the raids the New York City Police Department was performing, which often resulted in the use of brutal force against anyone involved or affiliated with the LGBT+/ two spirit community. The uprising was an act of strength and bravery, a fight against the powers oppressing them. The movement holds heavy in people’s hearts because like any other movement, it was a change, and it was a big one. It was the amplification of people’s voices who were usually silenced and discarded, seen as sinful or unnatural. It brought the community together, and so every June we commemorate this movement.
People who belong to the LGBT+ community often grow up silenced or hated for being who they are. In a lot of instances, they are raised to believe that they are unwanted, freaks of nature, and in major religions, they are told that they are beings against God. It’s sad to say that I remember when gay marriage was against the law in the U.S., and how it was only legalized in 2015. PRIDE month is important because it gives people moments to feel fully accepted, it opens doors to loving communities and gives opportunities for visibility. So many people need PRIDE month because even if they are growing up in a household that is not accepting of them, they will hopefully know that there are spaces for them, shown by the millions of broadcasts on the news, or on social media. PRIDE month is a time where people feel comfortable being themselves, and gives moments of relief knowing that there are people out there who support and relate to them.
Spaces created for LGBT+ community members are imperative because no matter who you are, everyone needs a place where you can be completely yourself. When exploring your identity, especially as a young person, it can be incredibly lonely and it’s a hard journey. It’s easy to think you’re the only one going through this, and sometimes you need guidance. Opening those spaces brings communities together and allows people to grow bonds and receive support that they may not get from home. It’s important to have people around you who you can relate to, and it can be hard to find those people. In most cities in the U.S., Pride opens up time to find those spaces and those support systems.
In my community, we are showing support by doing a multitude of things. The Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) government has officially named June “PRIDE” in solidarity with the LGBT+ community. The vice president and her interns hosted a healing camp where members could go to not only help heal their trauma but meet people who have gone through similar things. We also held a color run and a film watching event where we held discussion about the history of PRIDE and current events affecting the community. In the upcoming years we hope to hold bigger and more extravagant events to continue showing our support!