LION Newspaper

Yes, Pride Month is commercial. That doesn’t mean it isn’t important.

A+gay+pride+flag+in+San+Francisco%2C+California.+%28Yellowhammer+News%29
A gay pride flag in San Francisco, California. (Yellowhammer News)

A gay pride flag in San Francisco, California. (Yellowhammer News)

A gay pride flag in San Francisco, California. (Yellowhammer News)

Lars Lonnroth, Managing Editor of Breaking News/Multimedia Coverage

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Coming out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community is extremely tough.

Even with the continually changing times, changing cultural environment and an overall sense that the stigma that once surrounded homosexuality and other sects of the LGBTQ+ community has evaporated quicker than any could imagine, coming out as gay or bisexual or lesbian or transgender or any other sexual orientation is still a barrier many have difficulty jumping over.

For some, however, Pride Month can make that barrier a little easier to get over.

When I came out as gay at the rear end of Freshman year, I was petrified. I can assure you, the first people I came out to can probably attest to the rambling and word vomit and awkwardness that came out of my mouth as I said for the first time “I was gay” to a person at LT. Once that happened, it didn’t magically become easier. It still was at times hard to say. Heck, these are three hard words to write, too.

The fact that I’m writing for these words for first time in an article for The LION Newspaper—words that may be read by an audience of my classmates and teachers and school administrators—is petrifying because now it is a matter of public record. Now it is something that people who don’t even know my face will know is a part of me.

While being gay is a part of me, it is not the entirety of me as a person, which is something that I think is important to note. Furthermore, the gay stereotype may have some elements of truth, but it is not the entire truth, just like being gay is not the sole part of my identity.

Pride Month is a very important period of time for LGBTQ+ people, both for those still staying in the closet or those with gay written on their chest, because it underscores the diversity in the LGBTQ+ community. It shows that being LGBTQ+ you can be a firefighter, a republican, a business person; you can black or white or anything in between—you can just be you.

When Pride Month comes knocking at my door, it reminds me of my identity and, as the name suggests, instills a sense of pride in loving the people I love, being the person I am, and living in the way I am naturally compelled to live it.

June grants needed exposure to people happy to live their life as an LGBTQ+ person and plants this seed in a closeted person’s brain that perhaps they can live their life happy while being true to themselves, too. This is something they can do, and that is, in part, why I am writing this article right now.

I have been lucky to be surrounded by people who have been supportive of my sexuality, which is not always the case. No one has ever thrown an anti-gay epithet at my face (or, to the best of my knowledge, at me all together), no one has ever visibly treated me different because I was gay and no one has ever harassed me for my sexuality, and I think this is the kind of story that Pride Month needs to show.

People criticize Pride Month—and yesterday’s Pride Parade to an even greater extent—as being a chance for companies to commercialize sexual orientation and change their profile pictures and logos to show their progressive values and appeal to the growing LGBTQ+ community.

This is, undeniably, a fair critique.

But at the end of the day, while it may seem like companies and brands creating this image of inclusivity while not making significant steps to really demonstrate that support outside of Pride Month, this truly matters. This public display of support—however earnest—is important to people like me in showing that my sexuality is nothing to be ashamed of.  

At LT, there is homophobia. In the workplace there is homophobia. But in the world there is homophobia. But the people who hold those beliefs are, from my perspective, a minority.

The people I have met at LT have been incredibly supportive of me. Unequivocally, my friends and colleagues at the LION have been supportive of me and LGBTQ+ issues.

But despite the steps in the right direction, the marathon is not over. While homosexuality has become an accepted part of the human experience, there are those who don’t feel the same about transgender people: even at LT. There are people who demean those who are different and Pride month will not fix that.

But to the boy who feels like a girl trapped in a boy’s body, Pride Month matters. To the gay person being bullied at school for being who they are, Pride Month matters. For the LT students struggling to come to terms with their sexuality or gender identity—Pride Month matters.

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Yes, Pride Month is commercial. That doesn’t mean it isn’t important.