What Pride Means to LGBTQ+ Students, 5 Decades After Stonewall

What Pride Means to LGBTQ+ Students, 5 Decades After Stonewall

Forty-nine years ago, on June 27, 1969, a black trans woman named Marsha P. Johnson threw a brick at police after they unjustly raided the Stonewall Inn bar, sparking the beginning of Pride. Today, Pride Month exists to not only honor the 1969 riots but also to celebrate the many queer identities that have previously been marginalized and erased. Although Pride Month means a variety of things to different people, it can—and should—serve as a space for all identities to be unapologetically themselves. For starters, I celebrate Pride all month long so I can share and be proud of my queer identity with the rest of the community. To further explore just how wonderful this month is, I asked several students across the country (and beyond) who identify as LGBTQ+ what Pride means to them. Keep reading to see their inspiring answers.

“I love Pride because after centuries of oppression and violence, we’re finally able to celebrate our identities. Pride reminds us to remember the trans women of color who fought for our rights, and then we get to go out and celebrate them.” — Julia Carmel, Binghamton University class of 2019

“For me, being pansexual comes with a lot of identity issues. I definitely at times feel not ‘gay enough,’ and since being queer is a hidden identity, I often struggle with how to help increase the visibility of LGBTQ+ individuals as a social group. Pride month and the Pride parade give me, and others, a chance to come together as a community, no matter what your identity is. It reminds us that we are all in this together.” — Lora Bishop, University of South Florida class of 2019

“Pride, to me, means honoring and respecting the spirit of those in the LGBTQ+ community who cannot be visible with their identities or simply choose not to be. It also means that for myself, being open at Pride is an extremely cathartic experience. It is one full of immense euphoria, confidence, and radical self-love.” — Amari Savage, George Washington University class of 2021

“To me, Pride is a chance to reflect on how lucky I am to be in the position where I can express my truest self. It reminds me to make sure my actions are continuously creating safer spaces for other members of the LGBTQ+ community. It’s a chance to celebrate and love even harder. It’s magic, and I’m grateful that I have the privilege to openly participate.” — Jenna Campolieto, George Washington University class of 2020

“Pride represents what my life should be: a celebration and acceptance of who I am. Being a bisexual male, I often fear expressing my sexuality because I fear I will be rejected by gay and straight people alike, so it brings comfort to me to know that there is a community of people like me that will also accept me.” — Anonymous student from University of Georgia

“Identifying as Muslim and queer often leaves me excluded from both non-Muslim and Muslim spaces, which is incredibly frustrating, and people are quick to jump to harmful conclusions based on my identity. However, Pride is a safe space and safe time for me. Pride celebrations give me the opportunity to put aside the frustrations my identity can bring me and allow me to celebrate the beauty that stems from it as well. In the end—despite the difficulties—I’m proud of who I am, and Pride gives me the opportunity to cherish that.” — Fidan Baycora, George Washington University class of 2020

“Pride, to me, means celebrating my queerness! I’m proud to be who I am at all times of the year, but June feels like a special time to be extra about it and celebrate being a part of such a great community.” — Emily Ciavatta, Monmouth University class of 2018

“Pride Month means celebration, remembrance, and hope. I’m lovable not despite my queerness or transness; Pride means that I love those things about myself, and others love me for them too. I don’t need to hide them or wish or pray them away to be happy and comfortable. Pride is about who you love, which should include yourself!” — Anonymous student from University of Maryland, College Park

“Pride is like this period where time stops and [everyone] just celebrates this incredible community we’ve built for ourselves in spite of everything we’ve been put through.” — Syena Amaha, Pace University class of 2020

“To me, Pride means I have a time to feel proud of who I am and who I love and to connect and support the queer community around me! It’s always a time of love and support for me, and I’m super grateful that we have this time for us. Pride makes me feel powerful and very, very proud!” — Sage Died, Kent State University class of 2020

“To me, Pride is all about radical acceptance. Having a month to celebrate both who I am and who I like is really encouraging, especially when I’ve struggled with this in the past. Seeing the support from other LGBTQ+ people and love in our community makes it all worthwhile. It’s hard to find such a loving and accepting community, and I’m happy I’ve found it.” — Olivia Dunn, George Washington University class of 2020

Pride is the freedom of expressing who I truly am on both the inside and outside. It allows both comfort and confidence within my identity, and it also allows me to stand tall—feeling no shame about the woman that I am today.” — Niamh Sygrove, University of West London class of 2020

“Pride, for me, is having the confidence to express who I am in all facets of my life. Part of my pride is in what I wear, how I act, and how I use my voice. I’m so thrilled that Pride month helps all LGBTQ+ youth to help develop and share themselves in these ways and more!” —Sam Ferguson, University of Georgia class of 2020

What does Pride Month mean to you? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Opening image by Emily Ciavatta.