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What Pride Means to Me 2024 Edition

By David T. Valentin

Every year when June rolls around, I ask myself what does pride mean to me? You’d think after a few years of celebrating, I’d have down some routine Pride activities I enjoy, or what I want to do each and every year.

And yet, every year June 1st sneaks up on me. I’m scrambling for plans for what to do. Most importantly, I always ask myself, why am I celebrating? I think when it comes to dedicating yourself to a bigger picture, something bigger than yourself, it’s important to know what your role is, no matter how big or small. Afterall, as the far-right make their advances against LGBTQ+ rights, specifically trans rights for the past few years, American’s eyes are on us, and even more so during the month of June.

I say this not as a call for “decorum,” as I understand that’s what it might sound like but it’s quite the opposite. Our intentions matter, and our actions matter even more so. Will we act to push for liberation–a call to continue defining ourselves according to our own rules and ideas of successes and failures? Will we keep Pride to a mere parade of celebration? Will we move with confidence in a culture ever watchful of the LGBTQ+ community despite the potential of naysayers, or will we shrink back out of fear as some of us do not have the safety to walk proudly and boldly?

None of those questions come from a place of judgment or an expectation on how to act. They are simply questions as I evolve and understand my gender identity and sexuality, as well as questions I know our community faces as our community grows and evolves.

This year, I came to this year’s Pride at a crossroad.

On the one hand, personally, there was much to celebrate. From June 2023 to June 2024 was a year of pushing my boundaries–finding a way to go boldly into the world with a certainty of who I want to be, and who I am.

I learned to do makeup–an artistic expression I find incredibly therapeutic. For a time, I had my hair dyed blue, more so to force myself to do something that was out of my comfort zone, something I couldn’t quite take back right away, but also something that wasn’t permanent like some cheesy tattoo I would come to regret. I learned to love my body, as well as my small quirks and oddities. I also came to know how to handle my mental illness better, managing in a way that no longer placed obstacles in my path every other day at every other hour.

On the other hand, there is so much pain in the world. The relentless genocide against Palestinians continues–240 days, to be exact, and an uncountable amount of deaths.

Protests on college campuses across the United States were being put down in ways that threatened our basic right to voice concern and discontent with our government. This was a bipartisan effort.

To make it worse, the United States government sought to sell off TikTok to American investors. This sounds like a silly line when placed next to the discussion of a genocide, but it is quite relevant. TikTok, since even before the pandemic, created a community where information could freely flow and where content creators, political activists and educators could directly reach their audiences with live updates, something that has not existed on the internet since Elon Musk purchased and ruined Twitter (now named X).

It’s an obvious attack on the importance of community, protests and education, despite Nancy Pelosi’s silly little insistence of the government trying to make “Tic Tac Toe” a winner, as she puts it. Afterall the boycotts of companies such as Starbucks, Kellogg’s, Disney, Amazon as well as TikTok’s “celebrity ban list” affecting companies and celebrities’ profits and reputations. 

As we inch closer to the United States November 2024 election, Donald Trump’s campaign looks to be moving at full steam ahead, all while Biden’s campaign can only continue asking for “grassroots” donations without providing the American people with anything substantial socially and economically. 

To make matters worse, Donald Trump has become a martyr to the far-right’s convictions of a conspiratorial deep-state attacking traditional family values after the former president was judged guilty on all 34 charges in regards to hush-money paid to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

After the verdict, Trump’s approval ratings and donations to his campaign skyrocketed.

In a time of an emboldened far-right party and votership, the past four years have not served as a launch off for Joe Biden who many deemed “the most progressive president in history” during the 2020 presidential election. The past four years have instead proven to young adults and young voters that the Democratic party shows no resistance to the wave of red that has been marching onward ever since Donald Trump’s loss to Joe Biden in the last election. The upcoming scheduled debates on June 27th and September 10th will most likely show more of the same, along with proving another four years of Joe Biden will be nothing more than a cabinet whose only running point is “not being the other guy” and it will surely skyrocket Trump’s approval and campaign donations.

Despite this, young adult voters and young voters are not apathetic to the current political climate. They are not giving up hope that a better future is possible, no matter how much harder that fight might become in the near future. Progressive voters want a candidate that they can look to, a candidate that gives a path forward, a candidate that not only fights for progressive policies but also sets the stage for others to take up the torch.

If these past four years have proven anything–this year in particular–it is that the everyday person cannot rely on either political party of the United States, Republican and Democrat alike, to have progressive voters' voices heard.

But it is through the people who have rallied together in any way that they can, either through protests, education, art, etc., where our voices have the greatest chance of being heard. Most importantly, we must do it with our backs turned to our politicians and our voices raised loud and proud. Maybe then our government might finally realize they might just have to give us something of substance for us to turn our attention back to them again.

Pride, amongst other Civil Rights advances, has always been about community gathering together to ensure the most vulnerable of our communities are not only heard but protected in their speech and fight to be heard no matter who tries to yell louder. 

In the end, Pride must be political. It must be about the fight to protect the vulnerable. Without acknowledging the politics of Pride is to erase the history of the LGBTQ+ community and all the lives lost to get to where we are now. To ignore the political history of Pride is to ignore the pain, hurt and trauma of our community–pain, hurt and trauma inflicted by those who would despise us so much that they would turn their hate into law. 

Just the same as abortion rights have been taken away, so too can civil rights protections for LGBTQ+ individuals.


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