Pride Month, a Time for the LGBTQ+ Community

Andrea Melnik, Staff

In the early hours of June 28, 1969, 53 years ago, the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village, New York City, was raided by police officers.

Though activists had been fighting for rights for years before, Stonewall added a spark to the LGBTQ+ rights movement in the United States. President Bill Clinton declared June “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month” and President Barack Obama designated the month “LGBT Pride Month.”

Last year, President Joe Biden made June “Lesbian, Gay, Transgender and Queer Pride Month” to commemorate Stonewall and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community.

During June, there are several ways someone can show support or pride. There are celebrations scheduled throughout June and July in Seattle and Tacoma.

The Seattle Pride Parade is June 26 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Seattle Center, 305 Harrison Street.

Lynn Goralski, Financial Literacy teacher at Emerald Ridge High School, describes the feeling of marching in a Pride Parade. She has marched in the Seattle parade for 10 years with different organizations.

“It’s exciting because Seattle has one of the larger parades in the country. To walk down the street with 100,000 people celebrating the fact of who you are, and that you’re valued, that you’re part of the community and we’re excited to have you be part of the community. All of that brings that word ‘pride” to me as a person,” Goralski said. “I would think that [others] feel a lot the same way. The more we foster that pride, the less we have to be scared about being out.”

For three years, Goralski worked with the Oasis Youth Center in Tacoma, a community service/nonprofit group for LGBTQ youth aged 11 to 24. In 2015, a group was trying to change Washington’s non-discrimination law to remove protections for transgender people and Goralski was one of the people working to retain those rights.

“[Working with these organizations] felt good because we had a common cause,” Goralski said.  “We were trying to benefit our community to raise visibility, to support our youth, who are the most marginalized and have the hardest time, and in some ways, are still trying to figure themselves, and help support them in that journey that they go through, that we all go through.”

Senior August Harvick says that every month is Pride Month for him because he doesn’t see being LGBTQ+ as anything out of the ordinary.

“Pride Month has been a thing and Pride parades have been a thing for so long. And it’s so important for people in the LGBTQ community, to be able to come together and have a time to themselves where it’s like we’re supposed to be talking about [LGBTQ+ topics],” Harvick said.

Goralski says that she wants to see a future where being LGBTQ+ is normalized and accepted.

“I hope to see in the future that being LGBTQ is not a big deal. I believe that we want to see diversity in our world. Too many people say, ‘Well, I don’t see color and race.’ I want to view it all, I want to celebrate it all,” Goralski said. “That’s what makes our world amazing, is the amount of diversity that we have within it and that needs to be celebrated and that provides a strength when we celebrate it.”

As many LGBTQ+ people will find, a lot of people will be unsupportive and not willing to understand. Senior Theodore Stone says that in junior high when he was in ninth grade, he tried to run for ASB president. However, many students at his school did not vote for him because he was in the community.

“It showed me how hurtful people can be, but being out for so long has [also] shown me how loving people can be and how supportive even if they don’t understand. Even if there’s not many people who are in your community, [the ones who are] can give you a really strong and fulfilling sense of community because of how much support and love there is within,” Stone said.

When Harvick came out, their friends were supportive, and for that, they say they are really lucky. Harvick says that helping LGBTQ+ people is important because not everyone is completely sure of their identity.

“When you don’t know what [gender and sexuality] you are and you’re doubting things, it is a large feeling of being lost and not really knowing who you are. It’s also hard for some people to accept those parts of themselves, even if they do start kind of realizing it, because they have all of these negative thoughts and words about it thrown at them,” Harvick said.

Rainbow Center (RC) is a group designed to help the LGBTQ+ community. Support advocate Elizabeth Navarro says that RC has events, fundraisers, in-house and education to teach people.

“We do events with the community and we put on Pride fundraisers. We also do in-house in the Rainbow Center for some joints and we offer education. So if like a business or a group wants to have LGBTQ competent training, we can offer that,” Navarro said.

Part of Rainbow Center’s mission is to advance civil rights for the LGBTQ+ community. Celebration Manager Marshall Samuela says this means RC would rally behind a cause to make sure rights are kept and that movements can gain momentum. Rainbow Center also has events scheduled throughout July for Pride Month.

“Seattle hosts their Pride [parade] at the end of June and we didn’t want to compete with them, so we always host ours in July, and we’ve been doing it for so long. We’ve been able to get the city as well as Pierce County to recognize July as Tacoma Pride Month,” Samuela said.

Stone says they want to provide support to LGBTQ+ students because they know what it feels like to be lonely.

“Even if it doesn’t feel like it now, there are so many people who care so deeply about you, and who are going to love you and support you and be with you through the best and worst parts of your lives regardless of who you are or who you love,” Stone said. “And it may take a while to find those people. But those people are going to love you with all their hearts. And it’s going to be an amazing feeling.”