Liberty takes Pride in it’s community

What is pride?

Every year since 1999, June is celebrated as Pride Month. While originally in honor of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, New York, Pride Month has since evolved into a celebration of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) community. As Liberty’s own community begins to start its Pride celebrations, many people are left wondering: what does Pride actually mean?

“When I first think of Pride, I think of the parade and celebration. But Pride is more than that,” junior Nicole Treece said. “Pride is about becoming comfortable and visible in who you are.” 

Pride Month is a time when the LGBTQ+ community can openly speak about their experiences, find people with similar journeys, and be happy in their identity. For many individuals unable to openly come out, Pride provides an opportunity to view positive representation in the community.

“Queer joy is such a precious thing. For so long, it was something that people weren’t afforded. Pride is a good time to see that joy exists. People find things within themselves to be proud of,” senior Juli Malit said.

As Pride has grown, many corporations take the month of June to issue public proclamations of support for the LGBTQ+ community. While beneficial, the corporate adoption of Pride often produces superficial results. 

“A lot of companies will take ‘Pride’ steps, such as altering their logo or offering a rainbow t-shirt,” sophomore Bridgette Potter said, “But most changes feel performative. Brands don’t often donate to LGBTQ charities or do anything that actually supports the community.”

When supporting LGBTQ+ individuals, it’s important to remember the journey those individuals go through. The heart of Pride is not rainbows and fancy outfits; its community and recognition. 

“There are aspects of Pride that are the celebrations and the parade and the parties. But don’t forget to reflect on what we’re proud of. If you’re still going through that process of discovery, know it gets better. I’m living proof that you can get there,” senior McKenzie Maresh said.

Despite being commonly associated with T-shirts and parades, Pride Month is also used as a time to raise awareness and talk about important social issues relating to the LGBTQ+ community. Using Pride Month to talk about social issues has become especially important to the LGBTQ+ community now, with states recently passing laws that prohibit healthcare, participation in school sports, and allow religion-motivated discrimination against transgender and other LGBTQ+ people. 

“It’s crazy to think that this country is known as “the home of the brave and land of the free”, but it criminalizes homosexuality,” anonymous said.

Not only is Pride Month used to raise awareness for current issues, but it also helps bring light to already existing issues in the LGBTQ+ community. Some of the problems members of the community face include intolerance of LGBTQ+ people in religious and ethnic minorities, as well as familial rejection. 

“Being a queer person of color and a part of a religious minority makes it really hard to find a safe space,” anonymous said. “I don’t feel welcome in any of my communities, and It’s really hard to feel connected with other people, especially when there’s not a lot of people like you within your community.”

Despite facing many hardships and set-backs in their efforts for progress, the LGBTQ+ community has remained as connected and unified as ever. 

“I feel like now is the time to show that we won’t falter or give up and accept things the way they are. I think it’s really important to be like, ‘No, we are here, we won’t let this happen, and we are not going away,’” anonymous said.

Next steps

Despite major improvements in societal acceptance in the last few years, those in the LGBTQ+ community still continue to face discrimination. While issues relating to politics are one thing, the LGBTQ+ community still faces discrimination on a daily basis from those around them. Even at Liberty, many students report feeling unwelcome by their peers, and unable to talk to someone about their issues. 

“I think it would be good if there were just more opportunities for support, especially more that were anonymous,” Potter said. “Not everyone is ready to be out and they shouldn’t be forced out just because they want to talk about their issues.”

Many students feel that there are LGBTQ+ issues at Liberty that students need to be educated on. Small comments or actions, even those said in a joking manner, can be harmful to LGBTQ+ people.

“Microaggressions like people saying “that’s so gay” or “you’re so gay,” make it a lot harder for people to come out,’ Potter said. “Especially since “gay” is being used as a negative thing to make fun of someone.” 

Liberty also struggles with transphobia, with many people refusing to use a person’s rightful pronouns. Misgendering can be harmful and distressing for people who fit outside of the gender binary.

“People need to start making an effort to not misgender people,” Treece said. “Get comfortable asking peoples’ pronouns and actually using them. It’s never your business to judge people, but it is your business to support them.”

Educating people about the LGBTQ+ community can help reduce microaggressions and other offensive comments, as well as teach people to not be uncomfortable regarding the LGBTQ+ community. 

“Avoiding conversations about LGBTQ+ people reinforces the idea that it’s unnatural or like we shouldn’t be learning about it– like it’s something dirty,” anonymous said.

Being an ally is a way that individuals who are not a part of the LGBTQ+ community can support those who are. Being someone who supports and listens to their LGBTQ+ peers- even if they themselves are not a part of it- can help make the school a more inclusive place.

“To be an ally, you don’t need to do anything big. It’s just important to let people know you’re there for them if anything happens, and that applies just in general to being a good friend.” anonymous said.