Any time we head into a month designated for recognition of a specific group (Black History Month, Women's History Month, etc.), there's usually some dissent on social media about celebrating others. A common refrain seems to be that if there are months honoring Blacks, Hispanics, etc., there should be White History Month.
Really? Isn't that every month?
I'm fond of the answer by former archaeologist Matt Riggsby to this question on Quora: "History, as usually presented in the U.S., almost invariably involves white people (more specifically, usually rich white men, but we'll pass over that). We learn about presidents and governors and senators and generals and captains of industry who, because of our nation's racist history, are overwhelmingly white. But if you really want to understand history and America in its totality, that's a problem.
"It's not that this kind of 'kings and battles' history is wrong or invalid, but it's painfully incomplete. It's not exclusively a history of white people, nor even a comprehensive history of white people, but since it's about mostly white people, supported mostly by white communities acting in the interests of mostly white concerns, it's a pretty white kind of history. History stripped of everything but whiteness is the default, to the point where a lot of people don't even recognize anything else as history."
Now the murmurs are starting again because June is recognized as Pride Month.
People who have been historically marginalized--Blacks, women, LGBTQ, Hispanics, Asian Americans, Native Americans, immigrants in general, etc.--are the same as everyone else on the inside, but because of what's on the outside, they've had to fight to make even the tiniest bit of progress toward what others get as a default.
As Riggsby noted, "Black people and Black culture are part of history, with their own perspectives and historical trends. Same with Hispanic people. Same with women and gays and Native Americans and so on. There are countless different threads of history in this country, and if we just limit ourselves to the guys they name buildings after and put up statues of, we fail to comprehend that history and this country.
"So what can we do? Well, until we start teaching fully integrated histories, we can have events like [somebody or other] history months. We take a moment to acknowledge that, yeah, what we mostly teach about history has some gaps, and we're going to try to fill those in in various ways."
And so it is with Pride Month, which commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. After police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club, on June 28, 1969, patrons and neighbors clashed with police for six days. That served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement. The first gay pride parade occurred in Manhattan on the first anniversary of the raid.
Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Joe Biden have all issued presidential proclamations to honor Pride Month. Donald Trump, who did so with a 2019 tweet, was the first Republican president to acknowledge it, later releasing the tweet as an official statement.
Some have complained that there's no "heterosexual pride" celebration, but that argument, like the one about Black History Month and Women's History Month, fails to recognize that straight people (as with white males in general) haven't had to fight for their rights as homosexual people have.
As reported by the American Civil Liberties Union, sodomy laws were used to limit the rights of homosexual people, not just in private consensual conduct, but to limit the ability of gay people to raise children (even their own), to justify firing or refusing to hire gays, and to deny equal treatment and discredit LGBTQ voices.
Gay people, like everyone else, just want to be able to live freely with the same rights as everyone else. That really shouldn't be an issue.
It took a long time and a lot of work to get to the point where LGBTQ rights came to be nearly a given, but we now are backtracking, and hard-won rights are in danger because of fearmongering.
I grew up with many homosexual friends, most of them closeted back then because of fear. They didn't ask to be gay; it wasn't a decision, but simply who they are. I have many more friends now who happen to be gay, some of whom lived as heterosexual for decades, pretending to be someone they weren't.
The thing is, their sexuality doesn't matter to me, nor does my being the only straight chick at gatherings many times matter to them. Who they are as people matters, and like my other friends, they tend to be kind, caring, great parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles, smart, funny, spiritual, moral, and just a joy to be around, regardless of gender, sexuality, race, religion or whatever.
Those who have a month designated to honor them would just as soon like not to have to celebrate their progress. But then again, they had to fight for the rights they have, and now many are having to fight again.
As an ally and friend, their fight is my fight too.
Assistant Editor Brenda Looper is editor of the Voices page. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her blog at blooper0223.wordpress.com.