June 4, 2021
What is PRIDE Month?
June is PRIDE Month, a globally recognized month to celebrate the LGBTQ community and pay tribute to the Stonewall Riots that occurred in New York City in 1969. While the entire month is filled with events, parades and festivals around the world, June 28th is Pride Day, which marks the first Pride march that was held in New York City in 1970, one year after the Stonewall Riots occurred. Today, the New York PRIDE parade is one of the largest and widely attended parades. PRIDE month isn’t just about celebrating the LGBTQ community though, it’s also an opportunity to peacefully protest and raise awareness about issues facing the community.
The History of Pride Month
It wasn’t until June of 1978 when the rainbow flag was made the gay pride flag and flown in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade. Pride Month was officially recognized in 1999 and 2000 by President Bill Clinton. From 2009 until 2016, President Barack Obama declared June as LGBTQ Pride Month. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriages legal in all 50 U.S. states. To learn more about the history of Pride Month, visit nationaltoday.com.
What does the Pride Flag represent?
The first pride flag emerged in 1971 with the original 6 colors, purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red. Each color of the flag has a different meaning. Purple stands for spirit, while blue represents peace and green for nature. Yellow represents the sun, while orange reflects healing and red means life.
In 2020, after the death of George Floyd, images surfaced online of a new PRIDE flag, which was redesigned by Daniel Quasar in 2018 to add black and brown to the flag to represent Black and Brown people who are part of the LGBTQ community.
A second version of the flag was also created which combined the trans flag with the pride flag to make one inclusive flag. The additional colors on this flag are pink and blue for sex, and white is for people who are transitioning, people who have a neutral gender, no gender or are inter-sexed.
Growing up in the LGBTQ Community
Keith Taylor, a member of Community Programs department here at StayWell, shared a little bit about his experience growing up.
“Growing up in West Virginia, you didn’t see many people who where part of the LGBTQ community, however, when you did, you almost instantly became friends.
Being the youngest of seven sons, I had to always be on guard about my actions and what I played with. I never understood why I would be teased for playing Barbies with my sister? They never said anything to her when she would play with my matchbox cars. But of course, I knew it wasn’t normal to see little boys playing with dolls. I didn’t even think about what attracted me to girly things, to me it was a normal attraction. Then one day one of my brothers called me “Queerbait” (at age 7), I said “what is that?” All I knew was that it sounded like someone was gonna get me.
That label started being used every time one of my brothers or sisters would get mad at me or just to get a rise of anger out of me. Even in school that name would haunt me. All I knew, is that I did not like that word.
You see, I came from a very religious household, my father was a Pastor and we had a reputation to uphold. I couldn’t be going around town being called that nasty word. So I submerged myself in the church life. I really never had an issue with submerging myself in church, because there we had Jesus to take away the disappointment. As years went on and I began to come into being more self-aware of my feelings and what I wanted in my life, I found that the world would think differently about how I thought about myself. How could you target me for just being me? I couldn’t understand. I never asked to be this way, I was BORN this WAY!!!
After high school I moved to Pittsburgh, PA and began to really see what the LGBTQ Community is all about. I loved it and I also learned that I wasn’t the only one growing up feeling like I was alone. We all had the familiar stories, so we needed to show each other some type of understanding and acceptance. We started being each other’s family so that we wouldn’t have to feel isolated, or put out for loving the same gender. Although, I hadn’t experienced that type of hatred or misunderstanding about being gay, I however knew my Mother would have a fit if I wasn’t in her life in some capacity, so I remember writing a letter to her telling her that I was gay, and was not gonna feel bad for something I never asked to be. I told her that I can’t live my life a lie. I needed to be free. And I am gay. She, of course, didn’t want to hear it, but it had to be said.
I was 17ish when I told her. I also remember telling her that I wasn’t gonna hide or run away, but If she and my family wanted me in their lives, they’d have to accept it or I will never come home again. I don’t know if that made a difference or not. I remember my Mother telling me that she loves me no matter what, and that she will have to learn how to deal with it. It was the sweetest words I have every heard my mother say to me. My Mother loved me no matter what. What PRIDE that gave me, to know I was still loved and accepted in my family as Keith, not the gay one, but KEITH. I took that PRIDE with me in every city I moved to, and shared it with my other LGBTQ friends.”
Keith is the ETI/PrEP Navigator at StayWell and can be reached at 203-756-8021 Extension 3406.
How can you get involved?
There are many ways to get involved during PRIDE Month even if you don’t identify as LGBTQ+. Easily join in a Pride parade or other pride events near you, be an ally and support your friends or your community, become an advocate within your work environment, and educating yourself are great ways to get involved and help contribute to a more inclusive and accepting society.
Allison Separy & Keith Taylor
StayWell Health Center