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My Pride Is a Rebellion

Every year, Pride season provokes a myriad of emotions. Growing up in Kansas, I was never exposed to an actual pride celebration. Sure, I went to the local LGBT bar, but that was on weekends only, on the outskirts of town, in the dead of night. In fact, it was not until moving to Oregon for law school that I attended my first Pride event. And I admit, I was conflicted.

As a black, gay man, Pride season is a reminder that, as far as we have come as a society, there are still mountains to climb and valleys to cross. We must remember that the origins of Pride began as a rebellion led by black and brown trans women and others against police misconduct. We must remember that, even today, those same black and brown trans women have an average life expectancy of roughly 35 years. We must remember that, in 2019, at least 27 transgender or gender-nonconforming people were murdered, while 2020 has already seen the violent deaths of at least 15 members of that community.

As we take to the streets, video conference, or responsible physically distanced gathering to celebrate community, let us also mourn those who, for the simple fact of being, are no longer with us. And, in the spirit of Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, and the pioneers of Stonewall, let us continue to fight so that all can live with dignity.