BY JUSTIN MONTOVIO
June marks the start of LGBTQ+ Pride month worldwide. In Gibraltar, Her Majesty’s Government have initiated celebrations through the colourful installation of Pride flags and crossing lights to commemorate the local LGBTQ+ community. In order to truly appreciate the meaning behind the iconic rainbow flag, it is important to take a step back and reflect on what Pride represents, and the role that it plays in today’s modern society.
What is Pride?
Pride is above all a celebration of queerness. It is a time for the LGBTQ+ community to come together and celebrate the freedom to be themselves. At its core, it is a reclamation of the ability to feel proud of their identity and shake off the systemic shame placed on their community for generations. It is an opportunity to acknowledge the queer individuals that came before the current generation and challenged pre-existing social norms, allowing today’s community to lead their lives with greater freedom and equality. It also provides the necessary space to reflect on the societal changes that still need to be made for the benefit of future generations.
How did Pride start?
Pride is rooted in a tumultuous history of minority groups struggling to overcome prejudice and be accepted for who they are. The first Pride march was held in 1970 to pay homage to the 1969 Stonewall uprising that occurred in New York City, which is viewed by many as the catalyst for the modern gay rights movement. The uprising took place in direct response to an anti-gay American legal system and the continuous police raiding of queer establishments. The uprising was led primarily by incredibly courageous queer working class people of colour, such as Marsha P. Johnson.
Why do we still need a Pride?
Despite how far we’ve come, millions of queer people worldwide are still subject to prejudice, harassment, violence and persecution. Out of the 53 countries that make up the Commonwealth, 36 have laws that criminalise homosexuality (69 total countries worldwide). The death penalty exists as a legal punishment for same sex relations in 11 countries. LBGTQ+ people worldwide face significantly higher rates of poverty, marginalisation, discrimination, incarceration, sexual assault, motivated violence, suicide and murder. Even within our own local community, there has been a slew of online homophobic comments made recently in response to the installation of pride flags and crossing lights. The extent of the response that’s been seen online against these trivial matters emphasises the current need for the community to be as visible as ever and challenge existing misconceptions and prejudices.
What can I do to support Pride as an ally of the LGBTQ+ community?
1. Call out the discrimination you see around you.
2. Challenge any in-built stereotypes or biases you may have against queer people.
3. Educate yourself on queer issues and life experiences.
4. Help educate others who display misconceptions about Pride or the LGBTQ+ community.
5. Donate to queer charities and organisations.
6. Support in the push towards tangible change & reform.
7. Above all, spread love and positivity to members of the LGBTQ+ community!