Why pride events are important for the LGBTQ+ community


Courtesy of Raphael Kummer-Landau ‘22

Rainbow lights were set up around the Nott the night before the Pride Fest.

Bianca Ring, Opinions Editor

May 8th was the start of Pride Week at Union College, which ended on Saturday with Union’s annual Pride Fest. Union’s contributions to the celebration of pride are just one small part of nationwide celebrations of pride. In the seven years since gay marriage was federally recognized in the United States, LGBTQ+ Pride celebrations have remained important to the queer community, in the form of LGBTQ+ Pride Month, large parades such as NYC Pride, smaller thousands of other local events across the country. 

Pride is a celebration of the queer community, a way to educate society about LGBTQ+ issues, and a reminder of how far our country has come in terms of acceptance and legal rights, but at its core, pride is a protest. The first “Pride” was the Stonewall Riots, a string of protests that occurred in response to the June 28, 1969 police raid of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Manhattan. The local queer community rallied together to protest the violence committed against Stonewall’s patrons by police, and every year consecutively a march was held in support of the queer community. 

Over 5 decades after Stonewall, those who celebrate pride in the United States are legally allowed to marry, and gay bars are no longer banned, but members of the queer community still gather every year for far more than just a commemoration of our history. Kali Jauregui Morris ‘24 argues that “pride events are so important because currently, those in government feel like they can restrict trans peoples’ rights, such as former president Trump removing our access to the military. It’s also more important than ever to spread gay education as Republicans try to ban us from schools.” Morris is a member of Iris House, the LGBTQ+ theme house at Union, and they helped run the Iris House table at Pride Fest last weekend.

The battle for true equality is far from over for the queer community, as legislation such as Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill continues to bar queer education and visibility in schools, and the parents of transgender children who receive gender-affirming treatments in Texas are sued for child abuse. Forbes reports that in 2020, 52 percent of transgender youth contemplated suicide in the United States. Pride continues to be a necessary protest against the inequality that LGBTQ+ individuals are faced with and a vital reminder that queer identities should never be a source of shame. 

On a local level, having Pride events and holding space for LGBTQ+ education plays an important role in making Union’s community more accepting. Lack of education about queer identities leads to alienation, violence, and hatred towards queer people, and Pride events are a great way to make queerness visible and normalized to the average person at Union College. Allies at Union can only be properly supportive if they stay actively informed about queer issues, and creating a welcoming community of allies at Union will make Union’s queer community safer and more comfortable on campus. When this year’s Pride Fest had students and staff turned out in such large numbers, it serves as a reminder that not only is there a strong queer community here, but the allies that show up are making an effort to respect and support queer individuals.