Pride: A symbol of resistance and activism? A space to be oneself? A moment to connect to other Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer (LGBTQ) people? A remembrance of dear ones who were lost along the journey? A mobilisation to advocate for equal human rights as rightful citizens of a country. For LGBTQ people, pride has diverse meaning and diverse reasons to be – and justly so for the diversity within and across groups and queer individuals has been what enabled us to adapt, resist, organise and respond.
As such, the symbolism of Pride remains the outward manifestation of this crossroad between Queer people and society. True, Pride was not always Pride as we know it today. History as told and retold, transfixed and mutating, stands as the collective memory of the fight for equality.
From the Stonewall Riots during the 1960s with its share of emotion, violence, resistance and hope that it stands for in our Queer culture; the subsequent grassroots and civil rights organising that ensued; the HIV/AIDS sufferings that loomed as feelings of bad omen for those suffering from AIDS – the lovers’ goodbyes that hanged on the lips at the deathbeds owing to criminalised identities – while for others, the goodbyes from the social illness of homophobic crimes; political and social wins that paved the way for hope; change of laws for the better or the worse in even the most homophobic areas of the world – Pride symbolises this shared narrative; and overarching one which fortunately is not aimed at erasing the individual hardships and struggles of Queer people worldwide.
Marsha P Johnson and friend, 1976
Symbolism within diversity, visibility and inclusion
Symbolism of Pride is perhaps best represented in its Rainbow colours – the oiriginal with 8 colours in San Fransisco in 1978 -then following the assassination of openly gay politician and activist Harvey Milk effecting in rise in demand of the LGBT Flag but subject to to the market realities and unavailability of Hot Pink colour changing our Flag to 7 colours and finally organising realities dropping off the turquoise colour in 1979 to have the six-coloured Flag the way we know it today.
The Symbolism of the rainbow however represents more than colours.
Still today, across the world and even in societies where landslide wins have been present for the equal human rights of LGBT people, Pride should remain a space for visibility, diversity and inclusion fighting off the erasure of Trans people from Pride, allowing for Bisexual people to be more visible, creating spaces for cultures and subcultures struggling within the movement, embracing the shift of big companies and law enforcement who once stood as the worst opponent of Queer people (and still does in many societies) but are today marching side by side; standing up against oppression, marginalisation and discrimination of black, immigrant, disabled and Muslim minorities within the movement…
Pride remains this space to be Queer, to be oneself and conformity to what society would term as “being normal” is otherworldly for Queer people. Decades of rioting, march and organising are witnesses of this Queer resistance; and the daily Pride of Queer Mauritians are living proof of this reason to be.
No Pride Without Rainbows is valid today amidst the toxic discourses of wanting to “convert” Queer people to be and act “normal”. No Pride Without Rainbows is valid today because Pride is NOT about “normalising” Queer people: Pride is also normalising society to Queer people. Queer Mauritians have understood this. Have we?