Dusty Church is the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the First City Pride Center. He can be reached at [email protected]
June is LGBTQIA+ Pride Month, and the season often brings to mind drag queens in parades of rainbow corporate floats and logos.
It truly is a wonderful time to celebrate our community, and every year as President of the First City Pride Center, I am asked what Pride means to me.
Pride is about patriotism in its truest form. It is about telling our story, so that we remember where we came from and how far we still have to go. Our stories are quintessential American stories of fighting for higher ideals.
More information about the center:Two years without Savannah Pride leads to fundraising and a fight for the LGBTQIA community
Coming soon to FCPC:Here’s how the new CEO plans to strengthen Savannah’s First City Pride Center
Savannah Archives:The roots of Savannah Pride; city archives history related crafts for kids
Long before we started celebrating Pride, innovative figures in our community were shaping the country (and the world) we know today. But despite all the progress we have made, their stories, our history and our future have once again been dragged into the center of national discussions in the “culture wars.”
Nearly 300 anti-LGBT bills have been introduced in state legislatures so far this year. They are primarily aimed at children and are usually combined with laws that claim to address “controversial issues” in education, such as critical race theory. The goal… to erase the history of heroes whose stories cannot be reclaimed solely by white, straight Americans.
These attacks on our past not only harm our community today, they rob all Americans of the incredible stories of patriotic figures who embody our nation’s ideals.
I don’t think you could find a more inspiring American than William Dorsey Swann, the freed slave who founded the first known queer resistance group and was famous for organizing resistance dances in Washington DC in the 1880s. Such extraordinary bravery is almost unimaginable. . And the legacy of drag and ball culture to Madonna’s Vogue and RuPaul’s Drag Race began in his living room.
Where would we be as a culture without Alain Locke, the father of the Harlem Renaissance? Would Ralph Ellison have given us the sense of personal and cultural identity born of the Invisible Man were it not for his formative days spent with the gay sculptor Richmond Barthe? What would blues and later rock n’ roll sound like without the influence of Ma Rainey? What would the Civil Rights Movement be like without Bayard Rustin?
Plus:DOCSavannah, Savannah Arts Academy honors LGBTQIA+ youth with new mural
Pride is a celebration of who we are and what it means to be an American. Whether or not some wish to accept reality, we are all culturally black and queer as much as we are straight and white. Telling the American story fully and honestly requires acknowledging and celebrating our community.
And for the queer community, specifically, it requires continued efforts to recognize and include communities of color that have modeled extraordinary bravery and activism before us.
Pride is about the America we idealize. Pride is about honoring and drawing strength from the heroes who created a more perfect union and applying our energies to continue that fight for freedom and justice for all. Pride is patriotism.
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At a time when so much work needs to be done to preserve this union and make it freer and fairer, Pride is the perfect time to remind us all of our patriotic duty to stand up to legislative efforts to erase our past and target our children. .
At First City Pride Center, this is our calling. We hope you will celebrate Pride with us by joining this effort.
This month, we will celebrate our fifth anniversary with a block party on June 25 to benefit our salvage work. We invite you to join us and help us raise funds to support our advocacy work, free mental and behavioral health services, HIV testing, trans and youth support groups, cultural programs, and more.
To learn more about the Center and how you can get involved to show your Pride, visit firstcitypridecenter.org.