BY AZARIA HOWELL
Thank you, June.
June is a month of pride, a month of love, and a month of celebration. We should treat it as such. Let’s all erase the division others are causing and fly our flags proudly. Diversity is a beautiful thing; all of us are pieces of a beautiful puzzle, and when we embrace everyone’s differences, a beautiful picture emerges.
Pride Month has a strong history behind it. Born out of the three-day Stonewall riots of New York, which openly resisted the police and community discrimination which LGBT+ people faced, Pride keeps growing.
It’s important to stay true to your roots, and Pride is no different. It’s been 50 years since those brave activists fought back against police raids on gay bars, a practice that was sadly well-known then. It is crucial that whilst we fly the rainbow flag, we remember those who couldn’t, and we remember those who, sadly, still can’t.
They stood up to oppression and fought for the rights of LGBT+ people, which are improving daily. As of June 2019, 27 countries have legalised same-sex marriage. Yet, out of the 193 UN Member States, we still have a long way to go.
Pride is an act of resistance against regimes which spread hate. It is an act of resistance against homophobia, and it continues the legacy created by Stonewall, which we must continue to fight for.
We must call on politicians across the world to support the marriage rights of same-sex couples. We must fight for the introduction of gender neutral bathrooms in public spaces. We must advocate for schools nationwide, and globally, to teach acceptance and diversity as a part of their curriculum.
From recent media, it is evident that LGBT+ people are still not treated as equals, even in our home – the land of the long white cloud. Yet, we shouldn’t let homophobia win.
To me, Pride Month is about showing LGBT+ youth that it’s okay to be who you are, and diversity is a beautiful thing. Labour MP Grant Robertson painted this picture beautifully in a speech on same-sex marriage.
“Well, in New Zealand in 1986 there was a 14-year-old young man sitting in Dunedin who read the newspaper about the law to decriminalise homosexuality, and he cut out of the newspaper the names of those who voted for the Homosexual Law Reform Bill. And that gave him —me—hope that maybe his life would be all right.”
That’s why the Pride flag keeps flying.
Out and Proud is a series of LGBT+ articles written by TEARAWAY writer Azaria Howell in order to help young LGBT+ people feel safe and confident in their identity. These articles are published with the support of RainbowYOUTH, find them online at ry.org.nz for more information.
AZARIA HOWELL is a huge politics nerd living in Christchurch. Expect lots of new political articles on Tearaway from her! She also loves snowboarding, Beagles, and wearing clunky boots.
Check out more of Azaria’s work here:
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