With more than a week having passed since Orlando, the mainstream press is slowly forgetting about it.
Sure, as new information comes out, the media will duly report on it, but our day-to-day lives have more or less returned. The Australian media has turned its focus back to the election; the circus goes on.
Some of us won’t forget so easily. Of course, those directly affected by what happened will never forget. But the queer community, the Latinx community and the queer POC community will have this etched into their collective memories for a long time to come.
This weekend, many major cities in the Northern Hemisphere are celebrating Pride Weekend. It’s the last weekend in Pride Month, and it marks the 47th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City, the birth of the modern gay rights movement. (Incidentally, much to my dismay as I fly there specifically for it, Paris won’t be celebrating Pride this weekend like it usually does, because of the Euro football tournament. Fucking sports.)
Whether the timing of the attack was intentional or not, the fact that Orlando happened during Pride Month is both deeply unsettling and oddly fitting.
The queer community has a great track record worldwide of turning tragedies into unforgettable moments in our history. These moments strengthen us, bring us together, and best of all, demonstrate our fearless resilience.
Most of the events we celebrate today were historically moments of tragedy. Pride celebrates everything, but particularly the Stonewall riots, where multiple LGBT people were injured or arrested as they agitated for rights. Mardi Gras in Sydney started as our own uprising, resulting in arrest and injury. After Harvey Milk – the first openly gay major political representative in California – was assassinated, some 30,000 gathered in San Francisco to collectively mourn (and it was Milk who commissioned the creation of the rainbow flag, so we celebrate his legacy almost daily).
Through the losses of so many of our own from the AIDS crisis, we have days of mourning, days of celebration, and countless art and cultural works to remember them. We remember the victims of gay hate crimes by urging for police apologies, for investigations to reopen, for memorials at the sites of these losses, so that we may celebrate those lives given.
As a community, we have faced so much collective loss, struggle, hatred, pain and anger. But this past week and a half has demonstrated that, in the face of it all, we still have so much love, so much collective strength, so much resilience. Our community grows from our losses, and while we’d love for the losses to stop (believe me), they won’t break us. The thousands who took to the streets in London’s Soho district were inspiring. And this weekend, hundreds of thousands of people the world over will be mourning Orlando but also celebrating our community.
I’ve no doubt we’ll never forget Orlando. I won’t be surprised if LA Pride, which this year fell on the same weekend as the attack, now marks the tragedy each year, and remembers its victims.
The powerful thing about the Stonewall riots is that they resulted in change. They instigated the modern gay rights movement, and slowly, over the next few decades, resulted in countless positive things for our community. I only hope Orlando can have the same legacy – and hopefully in the form of better gun control in the US, as well as an end to the current slew of utterly ridiculous bathroom laws plaguing the country’s south.
[London’s vigil for Oralndo – photo courtesy Flickr/Alisdaire Hickson]
This week, all the regulars continue: HomoLoco at Newtown Hotel and Birdcage at Slyfoxon Wednesday June 22, then Homosocial at Secret Garden on Friday June 24, and The Sweet Escape at the Imperial Hotel on Saturday June 25.
But as well as your favourites, on Friday June 24, celebrate Love Club’s third birthday! It’s at Slyfox featuring Matty Bixx, Primak, Sven and more.
Celebrate Pride, Southern Hemisphere style! There’s a marriage equality rally being held on Saturday June 25 at Sydney Town Hall. With a week until the election, for some this could be the deciding issue. Then, continue the party along Oxford Street. Stonewall is celebrating Pride all month, and particularly this weekend.