What is LGBTQ+ Pride? Just as one definition of the word implies, for members of the Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) community, Pride month signifies the “confidence and self-respect as expressed by members of a group, typically one that has been socially marginalized, on the basis of their shared identity, culture, and experience.”
In 1969, due to Sodomy Laws, it was a criminal offense to be openly gay in most states. Despite that fact, there were still several bars in New York City that catered primarily to LGBTQ+ clientele. One such bar was the Stonewall Inn. It was owned by the mafia and operated without a liquor license. The Stonewall Inn was often the target of raids and police brutality of its patrons and employees alike. In the early hours of June 28th during a raid on the establishment, plain clothed officers obtained a warrant to investigate the unlawful sale of alcohol on the premises and sparked a six-day confrontation between police and LGBTQ+ protestors. This chain of events, known as The Stonewall Uprising has changed the social landscape of the United States and members of the gay community forever.
By sunset on June 28, 1969, thousands of protestors had gathered outside of The Stonewall Inn to support the gay men, lesbians, drag queens, queer youth, transgender and gender non-conforming people whose rights had been denied solely based on their sexual orientation. A movement for LGBTQ+ equality, acceptance, and acknowledgement in mainstream society began at the Stonewall Inn and has continued to this day. Pride celebrates the progress that has been made for LGBTQ+ rights and that love, no matter the parties involved, is love.
Since the first Pride March was held in New York City in 1970, communities around the world have designated June as Pride month to celebrate the history, culture, triumphs, and achievements of the LGBTQ+ community. At North County Lifeline, it’s important for us to recognize that our connection to the LGBTQ+ community goes beyond just the clients we serve. At our core, we are an organization which thrives upon the power of diversity, and we take great pride in the contributions to our programs from staff members, volunteers, and partners in the LGBTQ+ community. We understand the statistics which show that LGBTQ+ youth and young adults are at a greater risk for homelessness, and human trafficking. Our prevention and intervention programs help to lower these risks and establish self-reliance for LGBTQ+ youth and adults who have experienced trauma from human trafficking, are exiting the foster care system, recovering from addiction, or are in need of treatment for mental health issues. We are a Safe Zone for all.
“LGBTQ+ people like myself are very aware of the fact that we live in a heteronormative society and will often choose not to disclose their sexuality at work and hide their private lives from their colleagues due to fear of not being accepted and/or being discriminated against. I have worked for North County Lifeline for 5 years and have always felt seen, heard, and supported. North County Lifeline has taken a pledge to support their employees irrespective of their gender or sexuality and they have created an inclusive atmosphere, which has provided a safe space for me to be ME. I don’t have to hide who I am”. -Kristen Carvajal-Witek, LifeSpring Program Manager
“I’m proud to work for Lifeline and Project LIFE as a queer, non-binary staff member as we work to help LGBTQIA+ folx recover from trafficking and exploitation. I’m proud to work for an agency that values my identities and community”. – Kathleen Thomas, Project LIFE Clinical Training Coordinator
“I heard about the drop-in center and needed help, but was scared to come in because of the way I look. I am a trans woman and I experience so many people who treat me different because of the way I look. I saw the sign on the door with the rainbow and that was a relief. I walked in and everyone there was so nice and welcoming. I feel comfortable in the house and they help me a lot” – The House Drop-in center youth
Despite the impact of COVID-19 affecting every demographic worldwide and a time of palpable civil unrest, we are reminded of the origins of Pride month. A painful beginning and decades of trials have brought noticeable progress for the LGBTQ+ community, but we understand that there is still progress to be made. This June 28, 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of annual Pride traditions, and we hope you will join with us in celebrating this day!
The number of large, in-person events is limited this year due to COVID-19, but there are still celebrations happening online throughout the world. San Diego Pride Month is in full swing with educational, celebratory, and fitness events taking place well beyond June. North County Lifeline joins our community partners in support and celebration of the LGBTQ+ community. We will continue to lend our voice and services to educate our staff, volunteers, and stakeholders on LGBTQ+ issues. The only acceptable outcome is that love wins!