Why pride isn’t everything


Once again, Pride is upon us. At this time of year, it is easy to get caught up in the outpouring of excitement and visibility within the queer community, but we also cannot forget our anger at knowing that LGBTIQ people are still often living in fear of violence and discrimination. These two realities can be difficult to reconcile. How do we understand vibrant, overwhelming Pride celebrations in the midst of unprecedented backlash against the LGBTIQ community, and rising violence around the world?

For many LGBTIQ people, especially outside of US and Western metropolitan areas, Pride is not just a celebration, it can be very political. While in many places, Pride has become an assumption over the years, in nations where Pride is called into question every year, it takes enormous courage by activists and individuals to rally in the face of violence or threats of violence. For those who have been fighting for years to be visible, the possibility of a march can both in itself be an immense leap forward, and can be a catalyst for other social changes. Even in the most accepting of places, the symbolic act of walking down a public street, visibly queer, can hold great weight.

In a place like Swaziland, which is planning to hold its first-ever Pride March in the last weekend of June, Pride represents a concrete symbol of the LGBTIQ community finally getting its foot in the metaphorical door. But despite the possibility of a first Pride March, Swaziland’s laws and policing practices remain unchanged. Although a march can do important work in increasing the visibility of queer people, a place does not automatically become more queer-friendly in response to Pride.

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