Juneteenth to July 4th
An opportunity to reflect on Freedom and Racial Injustice
P - PRIDE
June is National Pride Month
In the month of June, also recognized as National Pride Month, there was little question that the representation of the letter “P” in Hopkinton would be for PRIDE.
On June 26, Hopkinton hosted its first ever Pride Parade. This event was a long time in the making, and not just from the perspective of planning such an event in our community. Pride and the timeline of LGBTQ+ rights and freedom from oppression has a long history in our country.
This year in 2022, we will continue this tradition and host our 2nd Annual Pride Parade on June 19th!
Acronyms & Terms
One of the first questions off the back is often, “What acronym do I use? What is LGBTQ+? Should I be using LGBTQIA+ or Queer+? How did we arrive at the many acronyms and names?” The progress of the acronyms, the pronouns, and the names is ever evolving and shifting as the understanding of identities and inclusion develop. The currently accepted terms can be as varied as the person each term represents.
What does it mean to be a member of the LGBTQIA+ community in Hopkinton?
In our local community, we have several families, adults, and youth who are members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Many of these adults and youth have had to take what is often a courageous step fraught with, in many cases, a lack of support from friends, family, or the community they live in to literally come out to the world as themselves.
(Content Warning: Child death)
We have also witnessed recent tragic losses of both Mikayla Miller and Mason Lee, two members of both the LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities. As was noted in our History narrative for Juneteenth, the tragic trend of deaths of two vulnerable youth in this demographic in Hopkinton must be a call to action. A call to acceptance. A call to inclusion.
Below are the words of a young adult’s experience in our community. While we originally thought it might be helpful to continue this writing about the history of the Pride Flag and its recent changes to be more inclusive of BIPOC members of the LGBTQ+ community, or to talk a bit more about the history, local and national events and activities for Pride, or discuss the resources available to our community, it was the personal and honest words of one of Hopkinton's youth (the organizer of Hopkinton’s first Pride Parade) that really drove home what Pride is and what it means to be a member of the LGBTQIA+ community in Hopkinton.
“..... I never could have imagined that there would be a time where I would walk through Hopkinton as my whole true authentic self... I am in disbelief that I'm here today planning a Pride Parade."
“I only started talking openly about my sexuality about 8 months ago. All throughout middle school and high school I never told anyone, and then I graduated and went off to [university outside of the country]. When I was a senior at Hopkinton High School, I never could have imagined that there would be a time where I would walk through Hopkinton as my whole true authentic self... I am in disbelief that I'm here today planning a Pride Parade. In a way it has been almost therapeutic for me to work on this event- it's helped heal a part of me that I didn't realize was still hurting-and has brought me a lot of closure.
“It's been really amazing - more and more people who I went to high school with are coming out since having graduated - and many are becoming vocal about the need for more resources in Hopkinton. It's been so eye opening to me because I really felt like I was one of the only LGBTQ+ people in high school and now I'm realizing there was a whole bunch of us - we just never knew!!! We weren't as alone as we thought.”
“…what I love about Pride is that Pride can mean different things to different people- but Pride is inclusive- Pride involves everyone - LGBQTIA+ and also those who are not LGBTQIA+.”
“I love the quote by Barbara Gittings (a well-known LGBTQIA+ US activist) she said "equality is more than laws, equality is won in the hearts and minds of the community" - It really highlights the agency that everyone in the community has to make a difference in the lives of marginalized people. Laws don't always change much but things change when people open their hearts and their minds to loving those who might be different from them."
The LGBTQIA+ movement
One of the reasons behind the LGBTQIA+ movement is to celebrate Pride while also paying tribute to all those who came before us - Stonewall and the POC Drag Queens like Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson who led the way. Drag Queens have also played an important role in educating about the HIV/AIDS endemic - it was really up to them on the stage with microphones to spread awareness and information to the LGBTQIA+ communities. 40 years ago this year was the first reported case of AIDS - Essentially we lost a whole generation of LGBTQIA+ leaders from AIDS.
Pride needs to look back at the past to pay tribute, but Pride also needs to look forward. We have a lot of work to do in pursuit of greater equality. In 2021 the only federal legislation is the right to marry and protection from discrimination in hiring/firing for employment. However, LGBTQIA+ people can still be, and often are, discriminated against in housing, employment benefits, healthcare, education, goods, and services. The lack of federal protections is how some states have been able to propose bills allowing medical workers to refuse healthcare treatment to LGBTQIA+ people and how over 160+ Anti-Trans Bills have been proposed throughout our country this year alone. Many are hopeful that the Equality Act could improve our legal equality- the Equality Act would add "sexual orientation, and gender identity" to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, meaning these characteristics would gain equal protected status as race and sex in the US. This year it passed the House of Reps but unfortunately faces an uphill battle in the Senate.
Pride is not performative
Pride is not performative - Pride is more than just a rainbow logo on social media. During Pride month, many companies may sell rainbow products, but not all of them donate back to helping LGBTQIA+ organizations and communities or use their companies platform and networks to stand up against anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation.
The other most important thing about Pride is that it can't just be in June. Pride Month is June, but I'm LGBTQIA+ all year round. As a result, people's Pride cannot just start and end in June, or start and end at a Pride Parade. We have to share LGBTQIA+ stories and voices all year round. Pride needs to be carried continuously. Pride means standing up to hostility, bias, homophobia/ biphobia/ transphobia all year round.
“Pride means standing up and speaking out against the 160+ anti-trans bills proposed throughout our country. Pride is actively fostering a genuinely LGBTQIA+ friendly environment in your school, workplace, house, etc. That's real Pride.”
Suicide Prevention Hotline and RESOURCES
(Content Warning: Suicide/Self Harm)
Suicide is the 2nd Leading cause of death in youth Ages 10-34, and it is highest among LGBTQIA+ youth. As cited in the original CDC report from 2016 that helped to draw a fair amount of attention to this in recent years, “Nationwide, 17.7% of all students; 14.8% of heterosexual students; 42.8% of gay, lesbian, or bisexual students; and 31.9% of not sure students had seriously considered attempting suicide….”
If you or someone you know needs support or is considering suicide or self-harm, please reach out to any of these resources to find immediate help (all resources below operate 24/7):
Advocates Emergency Services
The Trevor Helpline
Text/Phone - 866-4-U-TREVOR (488-7386) or Chat
Samaritans Statewide Hotline
Call or Text: 1-877-870-HOPE (4673)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Press # 1 if you are a Veteran
Calls to Action
SUPPORT Hopkinton's First LGBTQIA+ Pride parade on Saturday, June 26, 2021 at HHS Athletic track
ATTEND OUTMetrowest's LGBTQIA+ Basics and Beyond session at the Hopkinton Public Library on Wednesday, June 30, 2021
READ 'You Are Your Best Thing' edited by Tarana Burke and Brene Brown of an anthology of essays by black writers about vulnerability, shame resilience and the black experience. Many of the writers are LGBTQIA+ and talk about their experiences as one of the most targeted group of people with violence.
READ about Kelly Jenkins, a white transgender woman living in MA, on her “Transnational Journey, 50 States and 50 Stories” show
EXPLORE the resources available at the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
Join the Out of the Darkness Metrowest Community Walk this October to help bring attention and funding to suicide prevention. Out of the Darkness Community Walks help to raise funds for the National and State Chapters of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.