President’s Message

 

Self-reflection, curiosity, and intention. These are behaviors many of us try to demonstrate each day and are topics often covered by WEN. But as I began writing this message, I struggled to put the right words together to inspire the WEN community to celebrate Pride Month, so instead of pushing through, I stepped away from the computer to figure out why I was experiencing this writers block.

Pride Month is one of celebration for the LGBTQ+ community, but I didn’t want to only encourage our members to participate in WEN or community events. I wanted to go a step further and demonstrate one of many ways we can be an intentional ally and celebrate Pride Month in a more thoughtful and meaningful way. It’s with this curiosity that I researched the origin story of Pride Month and decided to share what I learned.

In June 1969, all but one of the states (Illinois) outlawed “homosexual acts” and raids on LGBTQ+ inclusive spaces were not uncommon. That summer, when police forces raided the Stonewall Inn bar in New York City, no one expected that the bar’s LGBTQ+ patrons would fight back. This began the Stonewall Uprising, a pivotal turning point for the gay liberation movement in the United States.

A single night of protests could have been the end. But several LGBTQ+ activists - primarily trans-women of color - and communities sustained the protests, demanding justice in what became weeks of violence, tear gas, and homophobic and transphobic slurs. News of the protests spread, uniting LGBTQ+ communities nationwide to mobilize gay rights organizations.

One year later at the Stonewall Inn, a small group of LGBTQ+ activists held a liberation march down a single street in remembrance of the June 1969 protests. As they walked the short distance, thousands joined them in support to participate in the first of many Pride Parades.

The Stonewall Uprising is just one moment in LGBTQ+ history. Pride Month is dedicated to uplifting LGBTQ+ voices, celebrating LGBTQ+ culture, and supporting LGBTQ+ rights through a variety of events across the globe. Pride Month is part political activism, part celebration of LGBTQ+ achievements.

By sharing my journey in writing this article, it’s my hope that you’re inspired to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community and, in general, take time to self-reflect, lean into your curiosity, and become more intentional every day.


Kara Byrne

WEN Global President