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Pride 2022: Progress and Provocations


When you hear about Pride Month, what does your mind conjure up? Is it parades, parties, rainbow flags, and endless queer gatherings? Or is it contempt for our flagrant defiance of straight culture? The latter is part of why Pride Month exists: to state that we do exist and are integral to the diverse fabric of society.

Queer culture has existed for as long as humans have walked the earth. We have been shunned and embraced, shamed and empowered, and murdered and nurtured by individuals and factions of groups along our collective journeys. Imagine, if you will, growing up in a family and one day you realize that if you are “one of those people,” you will be ostracized by your church, kicked out of your home, bullied and assaulted at school, or worse. What would you do?

Some people stay closeted for safety reasons, while others bravely venture out and risk their lives to live authentically. Others turn to substances in order to cope. Some give up and attempt to end their own existence, not because they believe they are defective, but because of the rejection and negative treatment they endure from hateful people.

The history of being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, or asexual/aromantic/agender (LGBTQIA+) has been wrought with violence and intolerance. During WWII, the Nazis sewed a pink triangle onto the clothing of imprisoned gay men (Mullen, 2019). In the United States, psychological and physical torture has been systematically administered to individuals in the attempt to convert or change their sexual or gender orientation (Badger, 2012; Blakemore, 2019).

For decades, Pride Month has been celebrated in June across the United States. Festivities, parades, and events have been thrown to honor LGBTQIA+ voices and experiences as well as to draw attention to the issues our communities still face. While we have come a long way, we still have miles to traverse in an ever-changing terrain.

Pride is not all rainbows and appreciation; our roots are steeped in resilience. We know how to party and we know how to fight–for our lives. Pride Month started with the Stonewall Uprising in New York City on June 28, 1969. Following a police invasion of a gay club located in Greenwich Village, riots and protests ensued throughout the city (Ennis, 2015). The majority of people at Stonewall were either drag queens or gay men of color, and at that time “masquerading” as a member of the opposite sex was a crime (Ryan, 2019). The Stonewall Uprising sparked a shift and increase in LGBTQIA+ activism. The Stonewall Inn was declared a historic landmark by the city of New York in 2015 (Ennis, 2015) and later named a national monument by President Barack Obama in 2016 (Leiro, 2016).

Our political landscape shapes how the pendulum swings in terms of progress. No president in history has done more for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer rights than former President Barack Obama.

While in office, Obama helped lift the ban on LGBTQIA+ people serving openly in the military, granted federal contractors protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and put a historic number of LGBTQIA+ people in high-ranking positions (The White House Office of the Press Secretary, 2016). Additionally, marriage equality became the law of the land on his watch.

Under President Trump, we watched progress go full-tilt in reverse while the administration undermined and eliminated dozens of LGBTQIA+ protections in health care, the workplace, schools, and more (Acosta, 2020; HRC, n.d.). We watched in horror as his administration proceeded to dismantle hard-won federal protections and resources for LGBTQIA+ Americans, particularly those gained under President Barack Obama—over thirty examples of harmful legislation (Acosta, 2020; HRC, n.d.)!

Legislating hate is unacceptable, and the slippery slope continues to slide. Pallarito writes that:

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), an LGBTQIA+ civil rights group, evaluated more than 660 potentially LGBTQIA+-related bills introduced or pending action by state legislatures in 2022 More than 340 of those bills were found to have “harmful impacts” on the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole. Of those, twenty-four measures have been passed into law in thirteen states (2022).

As allies, people need to ensure they do not engage in “rainbow-washing,” a term coined to describe behaviors under the pretense of being supportive, when in all actuality their actions or statements are designed for people or businesses to profit financially, politically, or otherwise (Guillaume-Gentil, n.d.). Examples of rainbow-washing include selling rainbow merchandise during Pride Month or waving the rainbow flag during a presidential campaign.

Despite attempts to erase our existence and shove us back into the proverbial closet, we continue to advocate for equality and dignity. We have come too far to regress. The lives and potential of millions of American citizens, our families, and our friends depend on it. Be proud! I am.


Raven Badger, PhD

Raven Badger, PhD, is a sexologist, a former professor in addiction studies and behavioral health, and has several publications to date, including book chapters, research articles, and her book Sexuality and Addiction: Making Connections, Enhancing Recovery (2012). She has worked in the addiction field for over twenty-five years and currently serves on the board for the National Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Addiction Professionals and Their Allies (NALGAP). Dr. Badger resides in Arkansas, where she founded and operates an equine growth and learning center with her spouse and four-legged friends.

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