June is Pride Month in the United States, a time to celebrate the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) community and to promote inclusivity. While this month-long celebration consists of parties and parades, it’s also a time for awareness and learning about a community that’s been historically mistreated and misunderstood. And although Pride Month may be acknowledged in many parts of the country (and at different times of the year in different parts of the world), it wasn’t until 1999 that former US president Bill Clinton declared June “Gay & Lesbian Pride Month.” Since then, not every US president has acknowledged Pride Month—an indication that not everyone has accepted the LGBTQ community. On this Pride Month, we’ll be sharing news about what’s happening during Pride and how people around the world continue to fight for acceptance and LGBTQ rights. First up? What’s happening in the United States.
NYC Police Banned From Pride Events
After what seemed like a year of lockdown, organizers of Pride Month are excited to once again host celebrations throughout the month of June. New York City hosts the largest Pride events in North America, so when the organizers of the events announced that police officers would be banned from all Pride events, it was big news. Why such an announcement? While there are LGBTQ members serving the police force, the organizers feel that the police department also represents violence to people of color and trans people. It was a tough decision that not everyone agrees with, but for now, the NYC police will be banned from participating in any NYC Pride events until 2025.
Interesting Fact: The thought of police being more fearful than helpful to the LGBTQ community isn’t a recent phenomenon. In fact, the distrust in police began in the 1960s when police raided the Stonewall Inn. (To learn more about the Stonewall Inn riots, click here.) And NYC isn’t the first to call for such a ban. In 2017, Toronto started banning police from participating in its Pride events. Other cities have considered similar bans but reversed their decisions after some pushback from the larger community.
Companies Support Pride
From Apple to Bombas to Converse to Disney to Lego, many big companies are celebrating and supporting the LGBTQ community during Pride Month. Apple has released a special edition pride band and face for its Apple watches, while Converse has created a set of Converse shoes specifically for Pride Month. Ahead of Pride Month, Lego released its first ever LGBTQ Lego set called “Everyone is Awesome” in which each of the eleven minifigures in the set is a color of the LGBTQ flag. These are just three examples of special edition Pride products that companies are selling to support the LGBTQ community.
Biden Overturns Trump’s Transgender Military Ban
When US President Joe Biden officially took office on January 20th, 2021, he got straight to work. One of the things that was at the top of his long list? Overturning a ban that former US president Trump had instituted the first year he was in office. This ban would no longer allow transgender Americans to serve in the military. Trump’s reasoning? It would be disruptive and the medical costs would be too high. When President Biden took office, he reversed this ban and the White House issued a statement that said, “President Biden believes that gender identity should not be a bar to military service, and that America’s strength is found in its diversity,” and that “Transgender service members will no longer be subject to the possibility of discharge or separation on the basis of gender identity.”
Equality Act, It’s Now Up To The Senate
In 1964, US President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, a piece of history-changing legislation that made it illegal to discriminate against people based on their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The Civil Rights Act included several sections, otherwise known as Titles, specifically defining areas where discrimination would be deemed illegal. For example, Title VII protects people from being discriminated against in the workplace. In 2019, the Equality Act was introduced to the House of Representatives as a bill that would amend the Civil Rights Act to include the LGBTQ community. It passed in the House, but the bill later died in the Senate. In February 2021, the Equality Act was reintroduced to the House of Representatives and once again it passed. It’s now up to the Senate. The LGBTQ community is hopeful that a Democratic majority Senate will sway in their favor.