Embracing Pride Year-Round | Opinion

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In the rainbow of colors that define Pride Month, there exists a profound intersectionality that amplifies the voices and experiences of Black LGBTQ individuals. As we delve into the essence of Pride, it's imperative to view this celebration through the lens of our unique identities, histories, and struggles. Skip Jennings and Terry Dyer, aka “Gritz and Glitter,” advocate for equality and justice within the LGBTQ community and offer our perspective on embracing Pride year-round and a way of life.

Honoring Our Complex History

Pride for Black LGBTQ individuals is deeply rooted in the complexity of struggle, resilience, and triumph. From the historic role of Black trans women like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera in the Stonewall Riots to the ongoing fight against systemic racism and homophobia, our history is evidence of the intersectional nature of our identities. It's essential to honor the contributions of Black queer and trans activists who have tirelessly advocated for justice and liberation, often facing intersecting forms of discrimination and marginalization. These activists, including figures like Audre Lorde, Bayard Rustin, and Stormé DeLarverie, skillfully navigated the complex and interconnected challenges of racism, sexism, and homophobia, breaking barriers and driving progress within the LGBTQ and Black liberation movements. Their legacy serves as a reminder of the resilience and strength of Black LGBTQ individuals in the face of adversity, inspiring future generations to continue the fight for equality and justice.

As Pride continues to evolve, it's vital to challenge normative narratives and embrace the full spectrum of Black LGBTQ experiences. Our community encompasses a rich diversity of identities, including queer, trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming individuals, each with their own unique stories and struggles. We must create space for these voices to be heard and uplifted, challenging stereotypes and fostering a more inclusive Pride movement that centers the most marginalized among us.

Rainbow Spirituality

During this Pride season, we should also celebrate our connection to religion that traditionally marginalized our community. Many of our queer brothers and sisters recognize our spiritual journey as a source of inspiration. Spirituality is a source of liberation and empowerment within the Black LGBTQ community. It derives from our culture, deeply rooted in the black church experience. Drawing upon their faith traditions and personal journeys, they advocate for a theology of radical inclusion that affirms the inherent worth and dignity of all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. By reclaiming spirituality as a tool for social justice and liberation, we can challenge heteronormative and cisnormativity narratives within religious spaces and foster greater acceptance and affirmation for LGBTQ individuals. We must find the freedom to come out of the closet with our spirituality.

Intentional Celebration

As we navigate the complexities of Pride, it's crucial to remain intentional in our actions and advocacy efforts. In collaboration with OutSFL, we at G and G emphasize the importance of centering the most vulnerable members of our community, including Black trans women, youth, and elders, in our organizing and programming. By prioritizing intersectional celebration approaches to activism and community-building, we can address the root causes of inequality and create lasting change that benefits all. Intentional celebration goes beyond mere acknowledgment; it requires a deliberate effort to amplify the voices and experiences of those who have been historically marginalized and excluded. It means creating inclusive spaces that are affirmative and accessible to all members of the LGBTQ community, regardless of race, gender identity, or socioeconomic status. The intentional celebration also challenges systemic barriers to equality and justice, advocating for policy changes and institutional reforms promoting equity and inclusion. By centering the needs and experiences of the most vulnerable among us, we can build a more just and inclusive society where all individuals are free to live authentically without fear of discrimination or violence.

Financial Equity and Accessibility

Addressing the financial barriers to participation in Pride is paramount. It's not enough to acknowledge the existence of these barriers; we must take concrete steps to dismantle them and create a more equitable and accessible Pride experience for all. This begins with advocating for equitable funding and resource allocation within LGBTQ organizations and Pride events. Too often, resources are disproportionately allocated to mainstream, predominantly white organizations, leaving Black and marginalized communities with limited access to the support and resources they need to thrive. By advocating for a more equitable distribution of resources, we can ensure that all community members can participate fully in Pride festivities and activities.

In addition to advocating for equitable funding, we must also address the systemic barriers that prevent Black and marginalized individuals from accessing financial resources in the first place. This means challenging economic policies and practices that perpetuate inequality and discrimination and working to create more inclusive and accessible pathways to economic opportunity. It also means supporting initiatives that provide financial education, assistance, and support to those most in need.

By dismantling systemic barriers to financial equity, we can create more inclusive spaces where all individuals feel valued, supported, and celebrated. Pride should be a time of joy, celebration, and empowerment for everyone, regardless of their financial situation. We can create a more just and equitable Pride experience for all community members by working together to address these issues.

Sustaining the Spirit of Pride Beyond June

Pride is not just a month-long celebration; it's a lifelong commitment to justice, equality, and liberation. Let’s call upon our corporate allies to continue building a more just and inclusive world year-round through ongoing advocacy, education, and community engagement. By sustaining the spirit of Pride beyond June, we can create a brighter future for generations to come, where all individuals are free to live authentically and without fear of discrimination or violence. Pride is more than a celebration — a movement for justice, equality, and liberation. As we honor our complex history, challenge normative narratives, and center the most marginalized, let's continue to march forward with pride, dignity, grace, and unwavering determination. Together, let's amplify our voices, uplift our communities, and pave the way for a future where every person, regardless of race, gender identity, or sexual orientation, can thrive in a world that celebrates their full humanity.

Listen to the Gritz and Glitter Podcast: https://gritzandglitter.transistor.fm/ 

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Terry Dyer, an award-winning author and activist, raises HIV/AIDS awareness, develops community programs and grants, fosters LGBTQ+ engagement, and engages in athletics. He wrote “Letters to a GAY BLACK BOY,” sparking discussions on racism, homophobia, mental health, family, and love.

Rev. Skip Jennings, an author, podcaster, transformational coach, and yoga/meditation teacher. He is a New Thought Minister and his notable work, “The Little Book for Transformation,” inspires change and living an authentic spiritual life.

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