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Pride month is more than just rainbows on brands

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Commentary: Every June across the United States, LGBTQ2 communities come together for a month-long celebration of love, diversity, acceptance and self-pride. As we close out Pride Month, here in The Land of Enchantment, it is important to acknowledge that the capitalist way of celebrating Pride month has removed us from the origins of what Pride is actually about.

It’s important to remember that Pride began as an uprising fight for the liberation of the LGBTQ2 community and it began as a protest against police brutality. The night of June 30th, 1969 marked a turning point for the LGBTQ2 community as the Stonewall Riots broke out and lasted for several days. Brave, transgender women of color were at the forefront of this movement. Women like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia River, Miss Major and many others. 

The LGBTQ2 movement began because of police brutality, gender discrimination and racism. More recently, we lost two of our transgender sisters, Roxanna Hernandez and Johana Medina at the hands of ICE and CBP. These are the same adversities we’ve been fighting for even before the Stonewall riots. We have definitely come a long way since then, but our LGBTQ2 community continues to face injustice no matter how hard we fight for liberation. The system continues to discriminate and limit opportunities for LGBTQ2 folks. 

 

The United States is home to people from all walks of life. There are millions of immigrant people in the United States. Out of those millions, thousands identify as queer. As a formerly undocumented-queer person, I can attest that living at the center of these two intersectional identities can often feel as if we’re living in dual shadows. Targeted for being undocumented and targeted for being queer.

Countless corporations such as Nike, Walmart, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Amazon etc. launch rainbow related products and campaigns every year during the month of Pride while funding private prisons and ignoring the fact that LGBTQ2 people suffer (at high rates) from substance abuse due to the oppressive systems that exist and the neglect they live through for being queer. And while the mainstreaming of Pride will continue, what I really want to see is those corporations which use our colors, our flags, our symbols and our people solely for profit during the month of Pride, invest in the well being of our community all year long! 

Pride Month is a time for our LGBTQ2 community to celebrate our identities and honor those who paved the way. Pride month is NOT a time for corporations to make a profit.  Despite the profound emotional and physical pain, the violence, and intimidation LGBTQ2 individuals face, we are powerful, loud. Our stories will not be dismissed or ignored anymore.

It’s imperative that we not only celebrate how far we’ve come until today but that we also remember those who paved the way, honor those who came before us, and pass on our history to our next generations.

Victor Romero-Hernandez is UndocuQueer Organizer for the NM Dream Team–the state’s largest immigrant youth-led organization in New Mexico.