The Rainbow Flag flies high this month. It waves above crowds celebrating all around the world. Its colors speak to individual hearts and minds. Regardless of how we define ourselves, the flag inspires us to always be true to who we are. There was a time before Pride Month when that could get complicated.
Little Richard danced around it with unabashed flair. He rarely talked about it out loud and denied it as often as not. Rock Hudson lived so deeply in the closet that many of his fans were stunned to learn he died from AIDS.
Living our lives honestly should be a basic human right. The denial of this fundamental consideration became a groundbreaking flash point for our nation’s LGBTQ community on June 28, 1969. A routine police raid on the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York City, turned into a riot.
After years of enduring harassment based on their sexuality, the men at Stonewall stood their ground. They fought back. Their resistance was an unprecedented shot heard around the world, and things began to change.
We remember, honor and celebrate that historic turning point each June with Pride Month. But it is still a little complicated. If you identify as transgender, lesbian or bisexual, you understand. When someone asks you to explain the difference between gay and queer, you do your best.
Ellen Degeneres came out in 1997 and her career took off. Her 2008 marriage to Portia de Rossi didn’t raise many eyebrows. George Takei declared his transparency in 2005. He joined countless other brave men and women openly navigating a slowly changing universe.
No matter how much love the public shows Neil Patrick Harris and Rupaul, it isn’t just about celebrities. They would be the first to agree with that. LGBTQ or straight, we are all the same as we work to make the most of the hands we have been dealt. We try not to let it get complicated. We stay focused on loving and supporting each other.
Everyone has a flag they can fly this Pride Month. Our banners are not all the same but they stand for the same thing: promoting equality, raising awareness and eliminating discrimination. It’s about the joy that comes from living and sharing wonderfully rich, diverse lives out in the open. Thank goodness there’s nothing complicated about that.