It’s Pride Month all over the country, 30 days in June in which to reflect on the history of LGBTQ+ people in the United States. Time to note how far we have come and how far we still have to go in ensuring equality and respect for all.
June was chosen because of New York City’s Stonewall Riots, which began June 28, 1969. It was common for New York City police to harass people who patronized gay bars and clubs. But the assault on the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village became one raid too many, and fed up patrons began pushing back, sparking days of protest that eventually became a catalyst for a broader gay rights movement.
Fifty-plus years later, the world has changed. Same-sex marriage is legal. A top NFL player has come out as the first openly gay active player. Young people who are gay, lesbian or transgender have adults they can look to and model their lives on without always having to hide.
So much progress, with more work to be done so people can live without fear of discrimination or harm.
That’s why in June, we remember. In Santa Fe, the Pride celebration routinely is a highlight of the year — rainbow flags are flying, the parade is fabulous and after-parties go long into the night. This year’s official day of celebration is Saturday. (Find a list of events in Friday’s Pasatiempo.)
As much as we love a party, celebrating Pride is also about rededication to the work of equality. In some 20 states and countless school districts around the country, troubling laws attacking transgender student athletes and their right to participate are being proposed. In New Mexico, the Alamogordo school board is considering banning transgender youth from sports. The superintendent believes having transgender girls participate will limit opportunities for biological female athletes.
It’s an unfortunate stance, unworthy of any school district in New Mexico.
Other laws focus on health care for transgender youth or seek to limit access to bathrooms. These are individual measures that when added up, show a broad attack on the dignity and rights of individuals.
Locally, it is good to learn the Santa Fe Human Rights Alliance is piecing together Santa Fe’s LGBTQ+ history with The Shoulders We Stand On — Our Proud Heritage. It’s an electronic timeline project, hosted online at hrasantafe.org. Organizers hope it can become the basis for a museum exhibit.
In the formative stages, it’s essential for people to come forward with their stories, photographs and historical documents to tell a complete story. Much is known about many men and women who moved to Santa Fe over the decades precisely because the city was more welcoming.
A complete story, however, will need greater input from longtime locals. In Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico, many know people with relatives who lived with a “friend” of the same gender and whose families accepted them but never acknowledged their true relationship. The pain of that silence can be lessened as the stories are shared.
All of this, then, is why June is a month in which to display Pride. It’s a celebration, but also a rededication to the importance of human dignity and a redoubling of a determination to ensure all people can live freely.