Pride Month remains a landmark but more support is needed

Helton Levy explores how Pride Month faces challenges from global conflicts and 'pinkwashing,' prompting calls for intersectional solidarity while celebrating LGBTQIA+ achievements.

Date: 2 July 2024

In 1994, high-school teacher Rodney Wilson started a small event to celebrate Missouri’s LGBT community. Drawing inspiration from the Black History Month, that was the start of the LGBT History Month. June was symbolic because of the Stonewall riots’ anniversary, but, later, the idea expanded into a making it a time to engage with a thriving LGBTQIA+ family, their history, and achievements. This is what we call today as Pride Month.

Since 2013, Pride Month has entered the official calendar of many countries, including the UK. Governments, businesses, and institutions have been constantly celebrating the role of LGBTQ actors in the national pantheon. Rainbow colours start to appear in logos and façades. Social media campaigns, documentaries, and awards spring in all media platforms.

Both History Month and Pride Month have translated into other commemorative milestones. The Trans Awareness Week, for example, happens in November. The National Coming Out Day, the Lesbian Visibility Week, Bisexual and Intersex Awareness Days are other examples of using time as an instrument of remembrance as much as politics.

Indeed, June 2024 has already shown some friction among LGBT movements about the ethics of it. The recent Russia-Ukraine War and the latest Israel-Hamas war, both events with devastating consequences, have reached expressive segments of queer activism, who want to extend the date to commemorate other oppressed groups.

The sponsorship of Pride events by companies involved in these conflicts or aggravating the climate emergency comes under attack by those who see LGBTQIA+ events as intersectional in nature. These activist groups see a duty for LGBTQIA+ communities in demonstrating solidarity as much as to refuse what some see as “pinkwashing.”

Associations such as Queers for Palestine have been vocal against Pride events being used as proxies by companies directly involved in actions that cause death and destitution in the Middle East and worldwide.

Whether a month of sheer celebration or to improve alliances across LGBTQIA+ communities, June 2024 provides us all with much opportunity for not just remembering a consolidated LGBTQIA+ trajectory as a movement, but also see a better future for all.

Picture of Helton Levy with expert comment slide

Helton Levy, London-based journalist, researcher, and Lecturer in Digital and Visual Media at London Metropolitan University.