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GUEST COLUMN Expanding our definition of Pride?
by Nathan Petithomme
2017-08-30

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In the city of Philadelphia, black and brown stripes were added to a rainbow flag, which was the catalyst to the debate of whether or not the Pride Flag should be inclusive of other marginalized identities than being restricted to only sexualities.

The question of whether the Pride flag should be more inclusive of marginalized identities or look through an intersectional lens shouldn't even be a question. To be honest, just adding the black and brown stripes to the flag isn't enough! Rather than just claiming that the Pride flag only represents unity and strength for LGBTQ+ peoples, we should reimagine our definition of Pride and look through an intersectional lens.

During the civil-rights movement, Black Pride was rampant. Black Pride included African American leaders, such as Stokely Carmichael—who embraced and celebrated their heritage from wearing more ethnic clothing and singing songs that empowered the race. Also, the slogan—Black is Beautiful—confronted white beauty standards, and encouraged African American women to wear their natural hair. Now, how is this different than the pride LGBTQ+ people fought for?

The Stonewall movement is the most highlighted beginning of the LGBTQ+ rights movement. There were queer and transgender individuals who were at the Stonewall Inn, a gay club. At 3 a.m. police began to raid the gay bar, but, this time, bar goers and patrons fought back against the police, which was the catalyst to a week of demonstrations and marches that sparked the movement.

What's sometimes not told about Stonewall are the stories of Black and Latino people who frequented the bar, notably two transgender women of color—Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, who were among the first to fight back.

Looking from an intersectional lens of race and gender identity, transgender women of color face higher rates of discrimination and are statistically more targeted for hate crimes. This comes from institutional racism, sexism and transphobia that bars trans people from having access to appropriate healthcare, job stability and legal protections and rights when it comes to affordable housing.

Despite these statistics, we frequently see that people regard LGBTQ+ rights as a white, middle-class issue. We see that representation of LGBTQ+ peoples in the media are white, cisgender men, which does not accurately show the diversity of the community.

However in reality, we see over half of the African-American male population with HIV identify as gay or bisexual, we see the hardships transgender women of color face, and even in Chicago, Pride is usually on the North Side in a predominately white neighborhood.

Chicago Gay Prom for high school students is usually not hosted on the South Side of Chicago, where many Black and brown students go to school.

We have to think of pride being able to be applied for different identities and how pride cannot be color-blind.

We can all agree that pride is a symbol of acceptance of one's self and community.

Pride is when you can come out to yourself and love yourself for who you are, and not self-loathe or wish you were another identity other than yourself. Pride should not be confined to your gender identity, your sexual orientation, or the color of your skin.

Gilbert Baker, creator of the Pride Flag, said it best, "The flag is an action—it's more than just the cloth and the stripes. When a person puts the Rainbow Flag on his car or his house, they're not just flying a flag. They're taking action."

The action that Baker speaks of is action against a homogeneous society that does not praise or embrace diversity. Instead of letting a symbol of pride, unity, and strength divide us, let it unite us and represent us to create a better world. Therefore, we should embrace a more inclusive Pride Flag that is explicitly intentional of empowering marginalized communities by accepting intersectionality.

Nathan Petithomme is a high school senior at Lindblom Math and Science Academy. He is active in social justice and community activism and aspires to be in the education field and politics.


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