Pride 2020: Reflections on Past, Present, and Future

2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. This momentous anniversary had folks taking the time to remember Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, trans women of color who risked everything to fight back against police violence. As I consider their legacies, I am reminded again of the many parallels between things that took place 50 years ago and things that continue to happen today. Both then, and now, longstanding violence at the hands of the state resulted in uprisings. This is the legacy of the racist history of our country—a country founded on slavery and genocide; a country whose institutions and structures maintain overt and covert systems of segregation, oppression, and privilege; a country that, when challenged, reverts to brutal violence to maintain White supremacy. 

2020 marks another important anniversary, the 50th anniversary of the first Pride march in New York City. The first Pride events were political demonstrations—people who were living outside the margins, loudly embracing their identities, and demanding to be seen and heard. And in these times when we need these demonstrations of unity more than ever, COVID-19 prevents us from safely having them. We are living in embattled times, but it is more important now than ever to use the lessons of our past, and the struggle of right now, to forge the future that we want to see. It is critical that we remember that while the landscape has changed, the fight for justice goes on.

CSSP is in this fight. Our roots are in promoting equity for all children, youth, and families. As a part of our efforts, for the last six years, CSSP took on the work of transforming child welfare systems to support and affirm LGBTQ+ children, youth, and families through our initiative, getREAL (Recognize. Engage. Affirm. Love.). getREAL is about promoting the healthy sexual and identity development of all children and youth involved with child serving systems. In our work with system leaders, practitioners, and policymakers, we know many people are trying to do better and affirm, serve, and love all children and youth. We see the strength and resilience in LGBTQ+ children and youth trying to navigate systems never designed to serve them. We work with practitioners, policymakers, and researchers who recognize how the larger racist history of our country undermines our institutions and who want to upend these systems.

We don’t know what Pride 2021 will look like—and whether we will be able to safely be together to celebrate. But whether together or still physically apart, we will not forget the history of the Stonewall Riots or Pride.  We will not lose sight of what the month of June means to us as a community. And so, for this year’s Pride celebration, when community feels more important than ever, we invited three colleagues to reflect on the past, present, and future of change and to offer their thoughts on the 50th anniversary of Pride events.  We hope their reflections will help bring us together, to re-energize our movement, and inspire us to work toward ending oppression in all its forms.

Read all of the reflections in the series: