By Ryan Evans
Today marks the beginning of Pride Month, but not every queer person in the world feels they have something to celebrate.
Napo is 27, and in his home country of El Salvador he has been persecuted for being gay, including being followed by “mysterious people” who tried to sexually abuse him. When he told police, they made fun of him, he said.
“I had to flee my country because I could no longer take the harassment I faced just for being gay,” Napo told the UK campaign group All Out. “I couldn’t take it anymore and decided to flee to Mexico.”
In the UK, LGBTQIA+ people are (usually) treated better, but this hasn’t always been the case. To bring attention to both the positive and negative aspects of living as our authentic selves – and to campaign for better rights for every gender and sexuality – we have Pride Month.
It’s one month every year where we queer people proudly wave our flags, hit the streets and bars, and march across the country to celebrate the anniversary of the first LGBT Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village in 1969.
But why do we only celebrate our queerness for just one month – and not for the whole year?
“Pride Day was about the specific remembrance of one of the first ‘fight backs’ and deserves to always be marked, and most importantly being vigilant to once again challenge and defy the haters and the lawmakers who make advances in humanity so fragile,” says James Hunting, Course Leader, BA Textile Design. “Without our forepersons, we would not be where we are.”
James says that he is happy being exactly who he is. “I love being gay, always have, even in the early days of confusion, loneliness and anxiety, and I always wore the insults as an identity,” he adds.
Jemmy Freitas Soares, second-year BA Fashion Marketing and Journalism student, says that events such as Pride provide the opportunity for members of the community to let their hair down. “You can be yourself and get to know and learn more about people like yourself,” he says.
He adds that it would be a “beautiful idea” if we held Pride monthly. “This way, we’d celebrate every month what we as the community go through in life, and remind ourselves and the people how far we have come.”
Donna Jones, Interim Head of Subject Area, School of Social Professions, says it’s “perfectly fitting” to celebrate Pride in June, but that we should remember that it’s “not just a celebration but a recognition of the rebellion and riotous revolutionary action against police brutality towards the gay community, led by Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera – a black drag queen and Latinx transgender woman.”
She adds that it’s also important to feel comfortable and proud of who we are all year round, and to have safe and inclusive spaces and attitudes around us. “To that end, the Rainbow Room will be queering the year and queering spaces at LMU with provocations and disruptions in the spirit of the activist roots of Pride. Are you ready?”
We are – but what about people like Napo? Let’s hope he – and others like him who are suffering persecution for being who they are – will soon have something to be proud of as well.