Pride Month: Celebrating diversity

The 7th-annual Little Apple Pride in City Park on April 16, 2016. (File Photo by George Walker | The Collegian)

June has arrived — it is officially LGBT Pride Month, which is dedicated to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

According to the Library of Congress, LGBT Pride Month originated after the June 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City. The purpose of LGBT Pride Month is to establish self-affirmation within the LGBT community while also providing recognition of the community’s impact around the world.

“Today, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts,” according to the Library of Congress’s “About LGBT Pride Month” webpage. “LGBT Pride Month events attract millions of participants around the world.”

This month focuses on raising awareness about and for the LGBT community. LGBT Pride Month involves educating others while also shedding light on the challenges the community encounters. It involves taking a stand against discrimination while promoting equality among all sexualities and gender identities.

“There remain many barriers to members of the LGBT community that come from continued stigma and lack of knowledge and understanding about sexuality and gender identity,” Brandon Haddock, LGBT Resource Center coordinator, said in an email interview. “A large percentage of the community are often closeted in their workplace, to families and even friends because of the fear of discrimination.”

Education is an essential factor toward the progression and acceptance of the LGBT community, which includes, but is not limited to, history, terminology and identification.

“The threat of homophobia and transphobia is still a reality for most community members; there remains a lack of understanding that queer culture, encompassing the LGBT identities, is affected by a loss of history and identity,” Haddock said. “Change continues to occur as more people educate themselves.”

Education is key, especially when asking questions about the LGBT community. Adam Carr, junior in management and president of Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA), said addressing certain questions can provoke emotional responses from members of the LGBT community. Expressing sensitivity is vital when addressing particular issues within the community.

“As people learn and begin to understand the spectrums of sexuality, gender expression and attraction, there has been a greater push for growth and acceptance of the diversity that our community has to offer society,” Carr said in an email interview. “Since the first pride marches and riots of Stonewall, our community has seen a growing number of support from all types of individuals.”

LGBT Pride Month allows members and allies of this community to build a stronger communal identity and advocacy while also celebrating diversity.

“In my opinion, I think [the] queer community needs people to actively listen to their concerns and issues,” Carr said. “We need people to get out and speak up for our rights and freedoms that [are not] being afforded to us.”

In effort to recognize equality, the Manhattan City Commission passed a nondiscrimination ordinance, which includes sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes. It was implemented on Nov. 1, 2016.

“Having protections such as this (nondiscrimination ordinance) granted to us is a testament to the ever-changing perspectives (toward) queer people,” Carr said. “We need to make sure that this push (for) progressive diversity continues in our country for all persons.”

Local organizations, including K-State, have established efforts to provide support and other services for the LGBT community. On-campus services include the LGBT Resource Center, SAGA, Gender Collective, oSTEM (Out in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and Broad Spectrum. Off-campus services in the local area include the Flint Hills Human Rights Project, Junction City Teddy Bears and the Manhattan High School Gay-Straight Alliance.

“At K-State, I believe that we have made real progress in alleviating discrimination toward sexuality and gender identity minorities, but we still have much more to achieve,” Haddock said. “The same principles of fear of outing, continued discrimination, etcetera, that we see in everyday life in the community at large can prevent individuals from reporting discrimination.”

LGBT community members and allies can cooperate to work toward improving efforts, awareness and acceptance. Acquiring knowledge and providing support will serve as an essential contribution in regards to the LGBT community.

“Always remember those who have come before us and know the history of where Pride celebrations come from and why,” Haddock said. “Know your own history, respect each other [and] love one another.”