What Does Pride Mean to You?
Dictionary.com defines the word ‘Pride’ as “pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or believed to reflect credit upon oneself.” An alternative definition provided by Dictionary.com defines ‘Pride’ as a “celebration of a specific minority group and affirmation of equal rights for members of that community”. It seems fitting, then, that a month dedicated toward the celebration of queer identities and liberation be known as ‘Pride month’. The month of June is a month which, for many members of the LGBTQ+ community, carries immense value. It represents more than what it may appear to from a quick glance at a parade float or rainbow-covered tee shirt (though my closet definitely does have a rainbow or two) . The understanding that this month carries a deeper meaning for the community at large leads us to a question which I believe many queer people have asked themselves; What does Pride mean to you?
As this year’s Pride month comes to a close, I find myself pondering this exact question. What does Pride mean to me? In my own life, Pride means advocating for equality and accurate representation of diverse identities. It means, specifically, spreading awareness for the issues which affect the LGBTQ+ community. Pride month is a time to recognize the hardship faced by members of a community who are still targeted by discriminatory legislation and hurtful rhetoric everyday. This means going beyond simply acknowledging that this hardship exists and actually taking action to make a change for the better. Pride, to me, means taking time to consider the facets of my identity which make up who I am and celebrating those which make me unique. I am a queer woman. I am Hard of Hearing. I am disabled.
This Pride month, in particular, I’ve taken a deeper look around in order to examine whether Pride events are generally made accessible to the Deaf community. The answer I’ve come to is this: It depends. As our lives have become virtual in the midst of the current global pandemic, many events and activities which would have taken place in large venues have transitioned into online events. This was the case even more so during Pride 2020, when the world was newly ‘shut down’ and most people were quarantined in their homes. That was the true start to ‘virtual pride’ events. This year, things began to return to normalcy enough for some Pride events to be held in person. However, the online platforms which were used to celebrate Pride last year continued their celebrations this year. This brings us back to the original question we are considering: Is pride accessible?
When using online platforms to host events which recognize or celebrate Pride, there are certain things to consider. It is critical that organizers of these events keep in mind the audience they are reaching. Specifically, are the organizers of Pride events keeping the disability community in mind when planning? Are interpreters being provided for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing folks in attendance? Are videos being captioned? Are there warnings for strobe lights or flashing effects which may trigger those with light-sensitive seizure disorders? What actions are being taken to ensure that Pride, a month which is dedicated toward inclusivity and acceptance, is inclusive of any individual who wishes to participate and celebrate?
Any member of a marginalized group can relate to the fact that exclusion from supposedly-inclusive spaces is harmful. It is essential that queer spaces be made accessible for disabled, queer people. Pride is a time for remembrance of LGBTQ+ history and celebration of diversity. Keeping in mind the diversity that lies even within the queer community, and celebrating what sets us apart from one another, will allow for even more progress to be made in the fight for equality. My hope is that as Pride month comes to a close this year, we can take with us the things that we have learned in order to create an even more inclusive Pride in 2022.