Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

LGBTQ+ People From Ages 8 to 65 Share Stories of Their First Pride Celebrations

Just like how there’s no one right way to be LGBTQ+, there’s no one right way to celebrate Pride, and for many folks, the first Pride event they attend is a significant one. 

Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, released a new video titled “My First Pride.” In the video, transgender and non-binary people ages 8-65 years old recount their first experiences at Pride and discuss how it feels to celebrate Pride at a time when the LGBTQ+ community is under attack in statehouses across the country. The video calls on viewers to fight against anti-transgender legislation in the states and help make Pride feel like a real celebration. As eight-year-old Violet says in the video, “trans is gorgeous.”

This year, at least eighteen states have passed legislation preventing transgender children from playing sports with their peers. Two states have passed legislation preventing transgender children from accessing restrooms consistent with their gender identities at school. Five states have passed legislation censoring discussion of LGBTQ+ issues in schools. And three states have banned the provision of age-appropriate, medically-necessary, gender affirming care to transgender youth—including Alabama, the first state to make it a felony to do so. Furthermore, statewide officials in Texas have tried to classify transition care for minors as child abuse. In Florida, the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill was signed into law and blocks teachers from talking about LGBTQ+ issues or people. These bills represent a cruel effort to further stigmatize and discriminate against LGBTQ+ people across the country, specifically transgender youth who simply want to live as their true selves and grow into who they are.

“During Pride Month, we celebrate our stories of coming out, of finding healing within our community, and often, look back on our first Pride — that very first time we felt safe to show up as our full, authentic selves,” Joni Madison, Interim President of The Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. “But this year, I hear stories that break my heart — stories of trans and non-binary children, their families, and millions of LGBTQ+ people whose rights and lives are under attack. So, this Pride Month — I want us to show up for each other. We need everybody to pitch in, roll up their sleeves and do the work. I want you to own and embrace all of who you are, and refuse to hide your Pride.”

For those feeling discouraged, Alise has an important message. 

“I don’t want [young people] to let politics get in the way of their celebration,” they shared. “This month is to celebrate you. This month is for you. But we still have to keep fighting. Never give up who you are, just keep going and remember to celebrate yourself. Then at the same time, speak and use your voice because somebody has to say something.” 

“Within these past couple of years, the queer community has been through a lot,” Alise continued. “But we can’t fight without love. So please use this time to celebrate who you are and home in the family environment that you need, because we can’t fight without a good support system. Let’s support ourselves right now.”

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