Every year, I think I’m going to love Pride month. I think it’ll be a month of celebration and love and community. But every year when June 1st hits, I can’t help but feel a sense of anxiety and pressure.
This past year has been a terrifying one for the queer community. The new legislation that is passing in the United States is plastered all over the news, and we watch as our queer siblings in the U.S. (and in particular trans people) are having their rights stripped from them. Drag bans are not just bans on drag. They are bans on trans people. The way that some of these laws are structured, anyone who is dressing outside of their assigned gender can be arrested. If you are clocked for not being cisgender, you can be seen as a criminal. We follow these conversations mostly through the American lens. But zooming in, we aren’t as far removed as people may think.
In April, a drag queen story hour just outside Montreal had to have meetings in a secret location due to protests to stop them. In Montreal’s Gay Village, anti-trans posters have been posted in protest against drag queens. People protested against a Pride gathering at the CN Tower in Toronto this year. And recently, Maxime Bernier of the People’s Party of Canada released a platform that includes removing queer books from school libraries, banning trans women from bathrooms, removing the ban on conversion therapy in Bill C-4 [an Act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy)], repealing Bill C-16, which makes it illegal to discriminate based on gender self-identification, and more.
While huge corporations are waving rainbow flags and preaching “Love is love!” queer people are dying. Pride month feels like a time where space is being made for queer people to speak, but only if it’s in a way that is tolerable to the masses. And that’s where the pressure comes in. For one month, our voices are supposed to be uplifted. If this is the one time where people are listening, what do you say? How can you get across the fear and struggles and grief of the community? And how can you guarantee that people will listen?
This Pride month, I encourage everyone to celebrate Pride. Enjoy the parties and the parades and the progress we’ve made. But I also urge everyone (especially straight allies) to be educated on these issues. To discuss the hard things. Please remember that Pride started as a protest, and as far as we have come, there is still a long way to go.