PRIDE 2023: Rise Up

On June 6, the Human Rights Campaign declared that we are in a national state of emergency, citing the unprecedented and dangerous spike in anti-LGBTQ+ legislative assaults sweeping state houses this year. These assaults—a direct attack on the safety, health and well-being of queer youth across the country—are happening in the broader policy context of an erasure of rights ranging from banning gender affirming care to banning books and during a time when the rhetoric of the far right has empowered an increase in hate crimes and violence.

This month, as we celebrate PRIDE and the rainbow that makes our communities beautiful and strong, we must commit ourselves to the health, well-being, safety, and happiness of youth and families—with a particular focus on the youth and families being subjugated by these harmful and dangerous laws.

The rights we have come to assume are tenuous and we are seeing how quickly they can be taken away.  Far right movements have become increasingly mainstream, impacting our policies in ways that are harmful to our communities and families. We know how dangerous this is for all of us, but the danger affects queer youth of color in immediate and significant ways—and we must fight back against it.

We must work to ensure that queer youth—and particularly trans youth—are supported, affirmed, loved, and celebrated for their full identities. We must ensure that families caring for trans youth are protected and supported in promoting their children’s well-being. We must protect the health professionals being targeted and threatened with violence and criminal action for providing care.  We must stop any intervention by public systems to take children from loving families by criminalizing scientifically sound health care. We must call out and fight to end the surveillance and control wielded over everything from what we read to the health care we are able to access.

PRIDE is a celebration that was born from an uprising against oppression, the Stonewall Uprising.  This event was followed by gay rights marches, which ushered in the movement that provided protections and advanced the civil rights of queer people. The early PRIDE events that evolved from the Stonewall Uprising were not attended by politicians or backed by corporations. Today, on the other hand, PRIDE has become a widely attended celebration, with politicians and corporate sponsors. It is time for these politicians and corporations to stand up and join our fight.

As we celebrate PRIDE month, we should also rise up with a renewed commitment and new movement against the sweeping laws putting children and families in danger. We want the policymakers who march in PRIDE parades and support PRIDE events to do more. We want them to advance policies that promote the health and well-being of queer youth and families, ensure that scientifically sound medical care is available to trans children and their families with their priorities and privacy respected and without surveillance and interference, and to address the attacks on trans and queer people, ensuring safe communities of belonging.

There are actions we all can take, big and small, that will make a difference in this fight—including protecting safe spaces where queer people thrive, taking a public stand against the murders impacting Black trans women, and taking on difficult conversations—through our work or within our own families.  

The circumstances seem different, but throughout our history, we have had to fight. This fight is for children and families, for civil rights, for healthy communities, and we have a collective responsibility to win.