Pride started to honor a riot at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, a safer space for queer and trans people, POC, drag queens, sex workers and other LGB folks in a time when it was risky to provide this sanctuary.
On June 28, 1969, when NYC police raided the Stonewall Inn, bar patrons and passersby resisted and fought back with trans women of color in the forefront. Thousands rioted in the streets near the Stonewall Inn over the next week. While the Stonewall uprising didn’t start the LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, agender/sexual) rights movement, it was a galvanizing force for LGBTQIA+ political activism, leading to numerous LGBTQIA+ rights organizations.
Today we continue to exist in times where LGBTQIA+ protections are repealed at a federal level, and violence at the hand of racist, transphobic and homophobic perpetrators — both uniformed and civilian — are going largely uninvestigated and without justice served. As Pride approaches its 50th year and the Eugene/Springfield Pride Festival celebrates its 27th year, it is essential to examine what Pride means in 2018: What is the same, and what has changed with the blood, sweat and tears of our rainbow predecessors?
Pride is both a protest and a celebration. The protest is the ongoing fight for our rights and for our very survival. It means giving the microphone and center stage to those who are the most marginalized and showing up in every way we can. It means being visible in our radical identities and self-expression uncompromisingly.
The celebration aspect of Pride is often lost behind a cloud of rainbow consumerism, queer tourism, and drunken debauchery. The true celebration by the LGBTQIA+ people for the LGBTQIA+ people is actually a celebration of resilience, that we continue to persevere in spite of efforts to eradicate and invalidate our existence from hate crimes to denial of health care. The celebration is for us to show up in our most authentic expressions and be revered by our peers for the incredibly unique, strong, vulnerable, and loving humans that we are. The magic is that we live, and love, and come out to find one another again and again in the face of very real threats.
When The Wayward Lamb — the only community queer designated space Eugene had seen in years — opened in 2015, the community surged with hope, excited about the potential cohesion it might bring to our community. While there are many groups, performers and venues that preceded The Wayward Lamb by sometimes decades, when it closed in 2017, it was a galvanizing force for LGBTQIA+ people and allies to step up and assertively create and/or promote opportunities and spaces that support the LGBTQIA+ community.
This is the spirit of Pride: Creating safer and inclusive spaces where there are none; using radical self expression, theatre, performance, music and visual art for protest and self-empowerment; and disrupting processes and systems that support oppression in all its forms to declare we have had enough.
How can you help show Pride? Start with supporting local nonprofits and resource groups like: Trans*ponder, HIV Alliance, Trans*Parent Support Group, As You Like It: The Pleasure Shop and Eugene Intimate Health Center, Tropical Contemporary, UO LGBTQA3 Alliance, the University of Oregon’s LGBT Education and Support Services, Lane Gender and Sexuality Alliance, United Front: Families Resisting and Organizing Nonviolently Together, Minority Voices Theatre, and The Imperial Sovereign Court of the Emerald Empire.
Support LGBTQIA+ performance groups like: The Farce Family, Glamazons and Unveiled: Eugene’s Queer Burlesque. Support events like: Monique la Faye’s Drag Battle, Cookie’s Cabaret, the Slutasia eXXXperience and her Queen Karaoke, Karess Ann Slaughter’s Drag Bingo, Danny Noall’s Rendezvous, Divas Damsels and Dames, Ladies Who Brunch, Drag Queen Story Time and the OUT/LOUD Queer and Trans Womxn’s Performance Fest!
Be sure to also support LGBTQIA+ inclusive venues like: Spectrum, The Drake, Cowfish, Sam Bond’s Brewing, The Davis Restaurant and Bar, The Barn Light and businesses with gender inclusive bathrooms, agencies that have pursued training in LGBTQIA+ concerns, and zero tolerance for hatred signs.
The best thing that Eugene/Springfield Pride offers is resources and community. Consider it an invitation to collect resources and make lasting in-person human connections. Embody Pride this year — for the entire year — through actively supporting LGBTQIA+ events, groups, venues, and taking your support away from spaces that discriminate, even in small ways.
Oblio Stroyman is the executive director of Trans*Ponder. Pronouns: they / them / theirs.