I am a second-year student in the Master’s of the Environment program in the Urban Resilience and Sustainability track. I go by she/they pronouns, will try any food once, and am a fair-weather outdoor enthusiast. I work in the sustainability tech industry, and when I can, I organize for environmental justice policy that puts people and planet before profit.
As I write this, Denver’s Pride celebrations are in full swing. Every venue in the city has events planned for the weekend, various pride flags dot Colfax Avenue, and Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out” is ringing through Capitol Hill. I remember how I felt the first time I celebrated the parts of me I was told should stay hidden. It was a feeling of relief, liberation. For me, Pride is resistance through joy, unapologetic self-love, and community.
Pride is also remembering and retelling stories about those who had no other choice but to fight for equality and liberation. The origin of Pride is rooted in resistance to police brutality. This resistance was led by the most acutely oppressed members of our community, queer and trans BIPOC (QTBIPOC) youth. Historically, QTBIPOC people were excluded from mainstream gay rights movement spaces which were mostly white and cisgender. Because it was more difficult for QTBIPOC people to pass as their assigned gender and assimilate into society, they were more often targeted by the police. Because of this they had no other choice but to resist. Without these stories we enable the erasure of the true meaning of Pride and more readily accept the hollow shell version of Pride driven by corporate interest.
As a queer person of color I have learned to look beyond the binaries that society presents to us as truth. I have learned to contextualize these issues through a systems lens and, knowing how isolating it feels to come to terms with your identity in an unaccepting environment, I am compelled to build a community of support and protection. Early in my career I decided not to pursue a position because I wasn’t sure if I would be safe in that space. As I move forward in my career, I will continue to use my values to guide my career path as a sustainability professional and as I seek to create lasting impact.
As we close out this Pride month, I remind you that pride and protection of LGBTQIA+ rights and lives does not stop on June 30th. With more than 100 anti-trans bills introduced into state legislatures this year, the most since 2015, there is still work to be done.