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Opinion: Embrace Pride and greater understanding of gender diversity

Opinion: Embrace Pride and greater understanding of gender diversity

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By Jenna Bazzell, Melissa Grey

June 14, 2024

In this op-ed, members of Stronger Together Huddle Jenna Bazzell and Melissa Grey discuss the history of Pride and the importance of uplifting gender diversity in Monroe and across Michigan.

This op-ed was first published in the Monroe Evening News.

During the month of June, we celebrate a segment of our population who are misunderstood by some and marginalized or attacked by others. In fact, there is a resurgence of hate crimes toward our fellow human beings.

We celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and diverse sexual orientations and genders (LGBTQI+) during Pride Month in honor of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising. 2024 marks 54 years since the first Pride parade. The purpose is to commemorate the historical impact LGBTQI+ individuals have had, to expand Pride’s legacy, and to raise awareness for how communities can embrace the array of sexual orientation and gender diversity.

On June 28, 1969, although not for the first time, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York City. During this time, in every state but Illinois, acts of ‘homosexuality’ were illegal. LGBTQI+ individuals were routinely harassed and criminally prosecuted for diverse gender expressions.

Stonewall Inn was considered a safe space for many young people before the police raid. Angered by police harassment and social discrimination, the events of June 28 sparked six days of protests and awakened the LGBTQI+ rights movement.

The first Pride Parade took place the following year. The parade amassed a crowd numbering into the thousands and stretched 15 city blocks. Afterward, many other cities began having their own Pride parades. Pride Month, first recognized in 1994, was when a coalition of education-based organizations in the United States also designated October as LGBTQI+ History Month. The federal government first recognized June as Gay & Lesbian Pride Month in 1999. On June 1, 2021, June was designated as LGBTQI+ Pride Month.

Unfortunately, LGBTQI+ community members, especially transgender and gender diverse individuals and their contributions, have often been ignored or cast aside. Therefore, in the tradition of Pride, we are uplifting gender diversity by affirming our commitment to love fiercely, live authentically, and confront repression and stigma together. We are inviting those within Monroe County to join us.

As we celebrate Pride this year, we are encouraged by others’ curiosity to learn facts about gender diversity. Many community members approach us with their questions about their children, grandchildren, and other youth and young adults in their lives.

When one parent asked us for help understanding their young adult’s identification as non-binary, we were grateful for the opportunity to have an open conversation in which this parent could ask any questions they want without fear of being judged.

As with this parent, many parents are learning that sex and gender are separate parts of ourselves. Sex is associated with biological characteristics and typically assigned at birth as either male, female or intersex. However, a person of any sex can have a non-binary gender. Individuals often identify their gender as boy/man or woman/girl, in binary terms. Those with a non-binary gender experience their gender beyond that dichotomy through clothing, mannerisms, hair styles and/or pronouns. As with this parent, many parents are learning that sex and gender do not always align with societal expectations.

Gender diversity has been part of human cultures around the world and throughout human history. It has been hidden and sometimes violently repressed, but gender diversity persists as an enduring part of the human experience.

Pride is a time of celebration and a call for liberation. Our hope is that everyone takes a step toward greater understanding and acceptance of gender diversity. This can happen with moving out of our comfort zones, being open to sharing ourselves, and truly listening to each other.

For education materials or to attend a learning workshop, contact us at [email protected]

Learn more about Stonewall and Pride at: guides.loc.gov/lgbtq-studies/stonewall-era

Visit Monroe Pride from noon to 6 p.m. June 29 in St. Mary’s Park.

Related: 9 ways Michigan Republicans are trying to rip away LGBTQ rights

Authors

  • Jenna Bazzell

    Jenna Bazzell (she, her), poet and educator, is a member of Stronger Together Huddle, a group engaged in supporting and promoting the common good of all.

  • Melissa Grey

    Melissa Grey (she, her), psychologist and educator, is a member of Stronger Together Huddle, a group engaged in supporting and promoting the common good of all. 

CATEGORIES: LGBTQ
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