Well, that was a doozy.
Today, July 1, marks the official end of Pride Month, and it has been a roller coaster of anguish, outrage, victory and challenge for the LGBTQ community and other marginalized groups.
During a normal June, LGBTQ folks might celebrate PrideFest (our local event is usually held at the beginning of July), connect with each other through queer events, and loudly proclaim pride for our rainbow of identities. But June this year wasn’t very celebratory. For one thing, Pride events have largely been canceled due to the coronavirus (ours is going virtual July 6-12; you can see a list of activities at cospridefest.com), but LGBTQ folks have also been dealing with bigger issues.
Since the May 25 death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of police in Minneapolis, protests across the country have drawn LGBTQ supporters of all races. They have marched in rallies against police brutality, raised money for bail and Black Lives Matter, and even been arrested during confrontations with police.
Marsha P. Johnson, the Black transgender woman who is said to have thrown the first brick at the Stonewall riots in 1969 (the origin of the modern LGBTQ civil rights movement) once said: “No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us.” Those words, sadly, ring as true today as they did back then. We, queer and allied alike, are fighting for the liberation of all of us: Black, brown, gay, bi, trans, Indigenous, immigrant, disabled — all of us.
In the midst of these protests, many LGBTQ folks online started calling June 2020 “Wrath Month” rather than Pride Month, as we harnessed the righteous fury that started our movement in the first place. And the hits kept coming.
[pullquote-1]In pop culture: J.K. Rowling, the author of the beloved Harry Potter series, wrote a public essay on June 10 invalidating trans women, essentially calling them delusional male predators. It’s an old (and dangerous) opinion, and one she has expressed before, but this time it gained sustained international attention. Trans folks and allies were already tired of this argument, which pits cisgender women (who were assigned female at birth) against trans women, a group of people far more likely to suffer abuse than inflict it.
But, oh, that wasn’t nearly all of it. In politics: On June 12 — the anniversary of the Pulse shooting in which 49 people (most of them LGBTQ people of color) were murdered — the Trump administration once again attacked the rights of transgender Americans. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services rolled back a 2016 rule that interpreted the ban on sex discrimination in health care to include discrimination on the basis of gender identity. The HHS said, essentially, that the ban on sex discrimination only covered cisgender men and women, and that gay and trans people could be denied health care and health insurance based on their identities.
Thankfully, we were able to celebrate one major victory during Wrath Month. Days later, the U.S. Supreme Court took on that same argument — the one about sex discrimination covering sexuality and gender identity — in the area of employment. In an opinion written by conservative judge Neil Gorsuch (yeah, I’m still reeling from that one), the court ruled that LGBTQ people are, in fact, covered under a Title VII sex discrimination ban. “It is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex,” the opinion reads.
Legal experts are saying this ruling could have broad implications, extending beyond employment protections — even into health care. We’ll keep an eye on pending lawsuits in that arena.
Here in Colorado, we’ve had inclusive non-discrimination protections since 2008, so LGBTQ people in our state (and more than 20 others) are already protected from discrimination in health care, employment, housing and other areas. For the rest of the country, this Supreme Court ruling may be one shining light in an otherwise bleak month.
But even through adversity, queer folks and allies have really been showing up for each other lately. No time to rest on our laurels, though. As ever, the work continues. No pride without liberation, right? We’ve got a long way to go.