Happy Pride 2023 | Opinion

Pride flags via Pixabay.
Pride flags via Pixabay.

First, I am happy to bring “Jesse’s Journal” to its new home, Out South Florida (OutSFL) and to do so on LGBTQ+ Pride Month. Though pride in one’s sexual orientation or gender identity should be year-round, it is good to set apart a month to showcase and celebrate our community and our culture. 

In this we join other groups who have their own Pride months: Black History Month (February), Women’s History Month (March), Arab American Heritage Month (April), Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (May), Disability Pride Month (July) and Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15). The only group that does not have a month are white, heterosexual, able-bodied Christian men but then, they are in control all year long.  

The concept of LGBTQ+ Pride was formed over a half a century ago as a reaction to a religious/legal/medical establishment that taught us to be ashamed of ourselves. Some people in search of an argument complain that there is no such thing as “straight pride month” as if we needed one. The day that heterosexuals or cisgender people discover that their own sexual orientation or gender identity is made a crime, a sin, or a mental illness, or forbidden to be discussed in our public schools, then we can talk about a need for a “straight pride month.”  

For a while events seemed to be going our way and Pride celebrations, which began when queer people and trans women of color finally said ENOUGH!, became an excuse to throw a party (as if we needed one). But every two steps forward come with one step backward and our LGBTQ+ community is currently facing a backlash, not only in benighted places like Russia or Uganda but in our own USA. Conservative politicians like Ron DeSantis, who use “woke” as a catch word to excite their followers and camouflage their racism, homophobia, and transphobia, do their best to put the brakes on our community’s progress. Though most Americans support LGBTQ+ rights, extremist groups like the Proud Boys or the ironically named Moms for Liberty have pushed like-minded governors and legislatures to pass oppressive laws that makes it harder for queer people to be free and live fulfilling lives. At worse, they seek to destroy us. At best, they seek to erase decades of Pride and pressure us to feel shame again.  

Like everything else, the new anti-LGBTQ+ and especially anti-trans laws affect some people differently than others. As a white-appearing, able-bodied, middle class, cisgender man living in South Florida I am barely affected by the reign of terror emanating from Tallahassee. But for a young LGBTQ+ person in our public schools, and especially for a young trans person coming to terms with their gender identity, the new, hateful Florida laws are devastating. I can buy “woke” books anywhere. But to young queer people, especially people of color, books that speak the truth about racial, sexual or gender minorities are increasingly hard to find. Of course, there is always a possibility that a mentally disturbed person, assisted by our increasingly lax gun laws, might decide to take us out of our miseries, all to our leaders’ “thoughts and prayers.”  

We never know how long we are going to be on this earth. We only hope that when the time comes, we leave this world a bit better than it was when we came here. If I have done anything good in my life, it is that I helped other LGBTQ+ people feel better about themselves, with my writings and my example. Pride 2023 has come at a challenging time. We must continue our fight and remember that the original Pride was a protest and not a party. Let’s make this year’s Pride something our enemies will long remember. 


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