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Celebrating Pride Month 2021

June is Pride month, so we thought we’d discuss the origins of Pride, what’s happening this year, and why it’s still so important.

Celebrating Pride Month 2021

Pride is an exciting and important event all over the world, so we thought we’d talk about it in some more detail for Pride month. We’ll be discussing why it’s such an important occasion for LGBTQIA+ people, how it started, and why we still celebrate it today.

There are some fantastic Pride events going ahead in the UK this year, so we’ve also provided some information about what’s happening and where. Finally, we’ll let you know about some of the ways we’re celebrating Pride here at FutureLearn.

What is Pride?

Pride is all about promoting the equality, self-affirmation and visibility of LGBTQIA+ people, by creating a community and safe space for people to be who they are. The word ‘Pride’ in this sense was first used by Brenda Howard, the organiser of the first LGBTQ Pride March in the wake of the Stonewall Inn riots of 1969. And, while the origins of the choice of that word may be lost to time, it’s a term that’s become meaningful to the community ever since. Pride is about encouraging people to speak up proudly.

Pride events usually involve a series of marches and parades with performances, music, colourful dress and an abundance of rainbow flags. In the UK, June is traditionally Pride month, but there will be Pride events across the country throughout the next few months. London Pride is in September this year, and will have a theme based on their values of visibility, unity and equality.

What about Black Pride?

Black Pride was founded by Phyll Gyimah-Opoku, known as Lady Phyll, in 2005. What started as a small gathering of black lesbians has become a national celebration for LGBTQIA+ people of African, Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American and Caribbean backgrounds.

The creation of a separate Black Pride event arose from the recognition that LGBTQIA+ people of colour have different experiences to white LGBTQIA+ people. They felt like Pride failed to recognise some of these differences and wanted to create an event and community where LGBTQIA+ people of colour had a voice and intersectionality was explored.

In addition, Stonewall research shows that 51% of BAME LGBTQIA+ people have faced discrimination from within the community. This further confirms the need for the Black Pride movement, so that no one feels ostracised or unrepresented in the queer community.

UK Black Pride 2021 is taking place in July, and has the theme of “Love and Rage”. As detailed on their website, they write “Our 2021 theme claps back against the many ways we are told who we are allowed to be, and how to grieve, love and rage. We will not be quiet, we will not be meek. We will be heard, and we will be loud.”

When did Pride start?

The first Pride event took place in London in July 1972, with about 2,000 people taking part. It was created as a response to the Stonewall Riots that occurred in New York, 1969. In the early hours of one June morning, there was a police raid at Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. Raids such as these had become fairly common, since at the time, cops were arresting people for doing drag or wearing clothes that didn’t align with their perceived gender.

However, this raid was different, as it triggered rioting that saw members of the LGBTQIA+ community fighting back against police brutality for three nights. These riots can be seen as an explosion of frustration within the LGBTQIA+ community in response to the increasing antagonism towards them. Not only did the Stonewall Riots ignite LGBTQIA+ activism in the US, but they also led to the birth of Pride.

What do the Pride flag colours mean?

The original Pride flag is the famous rainbow flag, created by gay artist Gilbert Baker. It was designed in 1978 after Harvey Milk, San Francisco’s first openly gay elected official, asked Baker to design a symbol for Pride. Some people in the LGBTQIA+ community had decided to reclaim the pink triangle from the Nazis, but many felt that the community deserved a new symbol without such a dark history.

When Baker had a vision of a rainbow flag at a bar, he decided that it would be the perfect LGBTQIA+ symbol, with each colour representing something different about the community. Initially, the flag consisted of eight colours, but it was soon changed to a more practical six: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.

As times have changed and discussions in the LGBTQIA+ community have progressed, a more inclusive flag has been created. The “Progress Pride Flag” encapsulates all members of the LGBTQIA+ community including people of colour and the trans community. It was designed in 2018 by Daniel Quasar, and adds black and brown stripes for people of colour and the colours of the Transgender Pride flag to the original rainbow.

What has Pride achieved since the movement began?

There has been a phenomenal amount of progress in the LGBTQIA+ community since the emergence of Pride, which demonstrates just how important it is. We still have such a long way to go before LGBTQIA+ people are treated equally across the globe, but there are still some notable achievements to highlight.

Changes in legislation

Many legislative changes have been pushed forwards by Pride and LGBTQIA+ activism. Below we’ve included some important dates of LGBTQIA+ legislation around the globe, though this is not an exhaustive list by any means: 

    • 1992: WHO declared that homosexuality was not an illness.
    • 2001: The Netherlands became the first country to officially recognise same-sex marriage.
    • 2002: Homosexuality decriminalised in China.
    • 2002: Gay people allowed to adopt children in the UK.
    • 2005: Civil partnerships allowed in the UK.
    • 2010: Gay people allowed in the US military.
    • 2010: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion act in the UK protects LGBTQIA+ people from discrimination.
    • 2013: Same-sex marriage legalised in England and Wales.
    • 2014: Same-sex marriage legalised in Scotland.
    • 2020: Same-sex marriage legalised in Northern Ireland.

More representation and inclusivity

The impact of Pride can’t only be measured by changes in legislation, even though that is a very important part of achieving progress. We also need to consider general attitudes towards LGBTQIA+ people in society.

Representation in media such as music, television, film and magazines has increased dramatically since Pride began, with many shows such as Drag Race and Queer Eye even becoming mainstream. GLAAD’s Where We Are on TV Report tracks the progress of LGBTQIA+ representation on TV each year, and in 2020 they tracked an increase in representation of bisexual characters on popular streaming services compared to 2019. Of course, there can always be more and better representation, but it’s definitely improved over the years.

Another notable achievement is that LGBTQIA+ has become a part of the UK education curriculum, after being voted in by UK Parliament in 2019. The ban on promoting homosexuality in UK schools was only overturned in 2003, so creating an inclusive curriculum is a significant progression.

As Lisa Hallgarten writes in our open step by Humanists UK, ‘RSE must be relevant to and inclusive of all students by acknowledging LGBT people’s lives and relationships in relation to different family types; and as people with the same aspirations and rights to romantic and sexual relationships as heterosexual people. Excluding LGBT people from RSE can lead to disengagement with lessons and reinforce feelings of isolation.’

Why is Pride still so important today?

Pride is so important because it continues to provide LGBTQIA+ people with a community, safe space, and a chance to celebrate who they are and who they love without shame. In addition to this, there is still so much more progress to be made, and Pride is one of the ways we can draw attention to LGBTQIA+ issues and injustices all over the world.

There are still 69 countries that have laws criminalising homosexuality, and the queer people in these countries need us to continue fighting for their right to exist. In addition, there is more to do in the UK to fight for LGBTQIA+ rights

The National LGBT Survey: Summary report found that LGBTQIA+ respondents are less satisfied with their lives compared to the general UK population, and that more than two-thirds of respondents said they had avoided holding hands with their same-sex partner out of fear of a negative reaction. Pride needs to exist so that we can continue to change statistics such as these.

When is Pride 2021?

While Pride month is June in the UK, London Pride is occurring on September 11th this year. UK Black Pride is a bit earlier, and will take place between the 2nd and 4th of July. There are many more Pride events across the UK, so we recommend you check the Pride events calendar

Outside of the UK, there are also many Pride events happening throughout the year, so you can check the Global Pride Calendar 2021 for more information.

What are we doing for Pride at FutureLearn?

Here at FutureLearn, we believe that everyone has the right to be themselves without fear of negative consequences. To celebrate Pride within the company, we’re holding an educational lecture focusing on trans and non-binary identities and continuing our fortnightly roundtable discussion of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under.

We’re also holding a fundraising event for Black Pride, where we’ll be hosting a quiz focusing on LGBTQIA+ people of colour with prizes from people in the community. We’ll be donating the proceeds to the Black LGBTQIA Therapy Fund, which is a fundraiser that raises money to pay for therapy for black LGBTQIA+ people who are in need of it.

If you want to learn more about LGBTQIA+ issues and celebrate Pride with us, we have a Pride 2021 course collection page where you can check out all of our relevant courses. Education is so important when it comes to making positive change, so we hope you learn something valuable about the LGBTQIA+ community.

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