Why Pride Exists
“Gay Pride was not born out of a need to celebrate being Gay, but our right to exist without persecution. So instead of wondering why there isn’t a Straight Pride movement, be grateful you don’t need one. –Anonymous.
This was a truly humbling weekend. I have always considered myself an advocate and ally to the LGBT community but I was caught off guard as to how ignorant I was to why Pride exists. I had never really thought about its origins or why it happens in June every year. All I knew was June is a great month to wear shorts, dance and celebrate one another. I am really grateful that my mom raised us to be advocates for equality. We were raised to believe that humans are humans regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation. But this weekend was a huge eye opener and it made me so proud to be a Californian and now a New Yorker. Pride is a really huge deal here. I was expecting a huge turnout but it was incredible to see how many people come out to support the event.
As I was riding the train home on Friday after a little shake out run, I was reading the Pride Run newsletter included in my Pride Run swag bag. The Pride Run is hosted by the NYRR (whom I am familiar with) and the NY Front Runners. I started reading about the club and the race’s history which I knew nothing about. The Front Runners got their name from a book written by Patricia Nell Warren titled “The Front Runner” about a gay runner and his gay coach. Today there are over 100 Front Runners Running/Walking clubs around the world! The Front Runners are a club for LGBT runners and walkers and their allies.
The Pride Run was not what I was expecting. I was ready for a light hearted fun run but this was serious business! Everywhere you turned there were runners sporting their running club singlets! Very intimidating! Despite the initial shock, the race was awesome and incredibly fun. There were plenty of tutus and rainbow sweatbands or socks in addition to the serious running attire. I wore my rainbow tutu, green running pants, and my awesome race tee. There were 0 queens, which I was not expecting, but this wasn’t a fun run this was a serious 5 miler! I ended up finishing in about 43 minutes and grabbed some fun selfies with some incredibly awesome and sweaty gentlemen.
On Sunday I woke up early to get my 13 miles in before the Pride Parade. I spent the entire day overwhelmingly dehydrated despite the fact that I had four water bottles, a Gatorade, and a GU during my run! I was feeling a little gross after my run so I hung around my apartment to shower and recover before heading back to the city for the parade. I shot a text to my friends before I left, anticipating the volume of the parade, and they told me they were across the street from the Stonewall Inn. I had no clue what that was or where that was so I found the address and took off for the West Village. It was a gridlock sea of rainbow clad people. It took me 30 minutes to get to where my friends were standing and by the time I got there they had moved on. Exhausted I decided to just hang out and watch the parade. Then I saw the banner on the Stonewall Inn that read, “Where Pride Began.” And I thought, wait a minute…Then I put it all together. I had heard and read about the Stonewall Riots.
This year’s pride was the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that kick started the LGBT movement. TheStonewallInnNYC.com does a very good job of breaking down what happened that night. “In 1969 Police raids on gay bars occurred regularly. It was illegal to serve Gay people alcohol or for Gays to dance with one another. During a typical raid, the lights were turned on, the customers were lined up and their identification checked. Those without identification or dressed in full drag were arrested. Women were required to wear three pieces of feminine clothing, and would be arrested if found not wearing them. Employees and management of the bars were also typically arrested.” They tried to arrest everyone in the bar and eventually a riot broke out. News of the riot spread and the next night another broke out. Then the next night.
It was the beginning of the fight against oppression and that is why Pride exists. It’s a reminder of how far we’ve come and why it’s so important to continue to fight today. My own father told my sister on Sunday he thinks it’s wrong. It’s humiliating to have ignorance like that in my family. I’m ashamed. It isn’t a matter of right or wrong. I sincerely hope there is never a moment in your life that you believe you have it all figured out. I hope you question everything. I hope, no matter what your beliefs or affiliations are that you remember that there is more out there. I hope you wake up every day and approach unfamiliarity and different faiths or mindsets with wonder and curiosity. Always question. I wish we lived in a world where differences empowered us. I wish tolerance were simple. I wish we all agreed that everyone deserves to be treated equally. It seems like a natural human response to care about one another. Instead of saying something’s wrong, I wish we instead said “I’m not sure how I feel about that. I’m going to look into it.” Try it. Honestly, what do you have to lose by questioning? Be kind everyone and happy Pride. I’m proud of how far my states and my country has come.
Until tomorrow, #RunSelfieRepeat.