Today marks the 40th Anniversary of the infamous Stonewall Riots, commonly accepted as the start of the Gay Rights Movement. A group of drag queens, gay hustlers and bull dykes had gathered in mourning over the death of their beloved icon, Judy Garland. Indeed, it was probably Garland's signature song, "Over the Rainbow" which inspired graphic artist Gilbert Baker to design the Gay Pride Flag. Originally, the flag included Hot Pink and Turquoise stripes, but those were later removed, presumably for aesthetic reasons.
But here's the thing: Why, 40 years later, do we still need to have "Pride Month?" Why do still feel the need to make ourselves heard? Why, after 40 years, are we still repressed? I'll tell you why.
We voted for Obama because he promised change. He promised to repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell." He promised to work toward LGBT rights (which are really just basic, human rights). But here we are, still being ejected from the military, still unable to marry in the majority of states, still treated as second-class citizens, still looked upon as deviants, predators and pedophiles.
The ignorant still claim that homosexuality is a "lifestyle choice." And I continue to ask them why anyone would deliberately choose to be a member of the single most hated minority on the planet. I have yet to receive a satisfactory answer. Never before has the need for education and enlightenment been so important. Hate against the LGBT community are on the rise. Hate is a response to fear. Fear is a response to ignorance. Sadly, as history proves over and over, hate is a learned emotion; prejudice is a taught response; change is slow and painful.
We still need Pride because we are still marginalized, and in many countries, criminalized. We still need Pride because even though we have made many strides, the LGBT community is still isolated and abused, simply for being who we are. Only we can change that. Only we can take pride in ourselves, knowing we are worthy and productive members of the human race. Only we can make "them" stop hating us.