Pride celebration: a time to remember

The Southerner

By Lena Rosen

The U.S. Supreme Court passed a law legalizing marriage rights for the LGBTQ community in June 2015. Pride that year was a celebration full of hope for a large group of people who finally felt as though their prayers were answered and their dreams for the future of the community were finally being realized. There was hope that the end of the discrimination against them was finally in sight.

This year, Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, was attacked in June. Forty nine people were killed, 53 more were injured in a senseless killing that occurred in what should have been a safe space for the LGBTQ community. So how should Pride reflect the occurrences of this year?

On Oct. 8-9, Atlanta Pride Festival will take place. As it approaches, it’s important to remember that this celebration of love and safety for a discriminated people only occurs once a year. While this should be a celebration in all definitions of the word, it should also be a chance for us to remember the struggles of the LGBTQ community before us. A chance to think of the people we have lost to attacks like the Pulse shooting and even those further back like the bombing of an Atlanta lesbian bar, the Otherside Lounge, in 1997.

The Orlando shooting was the largest attack on LGBTQ people ever, but it also occurred in a generation when being a member of that community is slowly becoming less taboo. Older generations fought for our right to be ourselves, and this attack cannot be a reason for that mentality to change.

Pride should be an opportunity to be strong as a community and to be proud of that community. With the attack we have suffered this year, it is hard to be confident in sexuality or gender identity while there are still people who believe that anything deviating from their idea of the social norm is wrong. We should not forget the attack, and our allies should not either. But we need to stand up and show those who believe our community is wrong that we are still strong.

Memoriam is not an unknown concept for Pride festivals this year. In New York, they had a memorial at the end of the parade for the victims of the Orlando Pulse shooting along with groups in the parade showing the faces and names of the victims. While something like the shooting is tragic to remember, combining it with Pride, a celebration of being different, allows those inside the LGBTQ community to prove that those who hate them will not be louder than the voice of the community.

Pride is an chance to celebrate a minority group, but it also needs to be a time to reflect and remember what has happened to our community over the years. Pride would not exist without our past, the community would not exist without those who have been unwavering in their fight for us and we would not know joy without the loss that we have suffered throughout our years of existence as an obvious minority.

So we need to treat Pride like a celebration. That is what it is. We also need to use this celebration to reflect on those who have lost their lives because our rights are still not respected. We as a society are moving in the right direction, and we cannot let those who attack any of us get in our way.