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Why Does Pride 2023 Feel Different?

June 9, 2023

Pride 2023 is here. But this year, for many of us at APCO, it feels a little different.

Pride has always been a potent combination of protest, celebration, and an expression of the vibrant, beautiful diversity of the LGBTQ community. But in 2023, fifty-four years after the Stonewall Uprising, there’s a renewed sense of urgency, spurred by the current legal landscape here in the United States, and a profound need to center the joy and safety of our trans community.

Here at APCO, we’ve asked a few colleagues why Pride feels differently for them. This is what they had to say:

Tyler Blackburn (he/him):
This year, Pride feels different in the sense that the tone of the year feels more restrictive than ever. I feel that is harder to truly celebrate this year, especially given the heightened political and legislative attacks that the LGBTQ+ community has been experiencing. You’d be blind to not see the attacks happening towards LGBTQ+ youth and allies in our educational system, the barring of curriculum that speak to LGBTQ+ experiences and history, and the oppressive restrictions of access towards health care for LGBTQ+ communities. There is also something to be said around how corporations and brands are pulling away from their LGBTQ+ audiences to appeal to larger groups and quell the backlash of more conservative voices online. I think, too, of our trans siblings, who are also disproportionately bearing the weight of these attacks and it hurts. Pride should be a time for all LGBTQ+ identities to openly celebrate and show up in all spaces as their true selves, but this year, it feels like we must hinder ourselves due to the climate we’re experiencing. Despite this, I still encourage members of our communities, and allies, to celebrate and center joy to resist this climate.

Tristan Fitzpatrick (he/him):
Pride 2023 feels different to me because many of the rights and freedoms our community has cherished have come under attack.

Last year, the Department of Homeland Security issued a terrorism advisory bulletin warning that the LGBTQ+ community faced unique threats from Americans motivated by violent ideologies. This was a sobering reminder that, for all the progress our community has made, too many of us are still vulnerable to the forces of hatred in our country.

Now is the time for organizations across the public, private and non-profit sectors to fully embrace and champion the diversity and strength of the LGBTQ+ community. The battle for liberty and justice for all is not limited to one part of society – it requires a collective effort among all of us to encourage our colleagues, loved ones and neighbors recognize how LGBTQ+ people meaningfully contribute in our homes, places of work and worship.

Howard Pulchin (he/him):
Pride feels different this year, but in some ways, it really is the same as it was during the Stonewall Uprising in 1969.  Pride has always been a protest, yet also an inspiring showcase for the diversity, love, and power of the LGBTQ population. If anything, this year has a more urgent protest, given the more than 525 laws and proposed legislation that limits our full and equal participation in the United States. This has brought about an even brighter and more vibrant display of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer+ people coming together in support, caring, advocacy and yes, joy. This Pride is more important to me than any previous one, as I feel a personal urgency to pay homage to those who fought so hard for our rights and a shared responsibility to pave the way for our next generations thrive in a world where they are considered equal, in every sense of the word. While Pride is just one month, I hope this month will be a catalyst to move forward, together every month of every year.

Christina Saull (she/her):
As the daughter, sister, best friend and colleague of members of the LGBTQ community, Pride 2023 feels different because the basic human rights of my friends and family are once again on the chopping block. The gains made since the Stonewall protest in 1969 seem to fall away on a daily basis as baseless legislative proposals fly through state legislatures and entire presidential campaigns are based on the fact that those who I hold dearest to me are just part of “woke society” that needs to be “canceled.” The fact that Americans are willing, even eager, to not just ignore but degrade an entire segment of our population is not a new concept–persons of color have been facing this since before the founding of our country–but makes Pride 2023 even more challenging to celebrate. So, fellow allies, let this year be the rallying cry that now is the time to step up in whatever way you are able to in support of the LGBTQ community. More so than any recent time, this is the year when our voice is needed the most.

Owen Stecco (he/him):
My coming out date closely coincides with Pride, so each year I mark the progress made in my journey with queerness. Every year I am reminded of how much love and joy I am surrounded with in my authentic state. Every year I am also reminded of the sacrifices and lost relationships that stemmed from my coming out. Each passing Pride reminds me of the balancing act that is being queer. Having the highest of highs being your authentic self and experiencing the lowest of lows when that version of yourself is being legislated out of existence.

Pride has always been a reminder of the love and joy that emanates from our community, but this year it is evident we are only as secure as our most vulnerable members. Our trans siblings are under attack by those who seek to politicize our existence and regulate our right to basic freedoms and unconditional joy. This year’s Pride reminds us that we must be uplifting and defending our trans community because an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. When measuring the progress of this Pride we will remember those who stood against our pursuit of love.

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