Pride Month: Celebrating LGBTQ+ Rights, Activism, and Joy

As the world celebrates Pride Month, we reaffirm our commitment as a global movement to the advancement of peace, justice, and human rights for LGBTQ+ people everywhere. In this article, WILPF staff and members who identify as LGBTQ+ celebrate Pride Month by sharing their thoughts and reflections on the relationship between feminist peace and LGBTQ+ activism. Check out this blog from 2022 by WILPF International!

June is Pride Month and we’re celebrating!

Feminist peace means the achievement of peace, justice, human rights, and equality for all people, everywhere – including all those who identify as LGBTQ+ in diverse contexts around the world.

Since WILPF’s founding in 1915, our global community of feminist peace activists have advocated tirelessly for the rights of LGBTQ+ people – the right to love openly and freely, the right to live with peace and safety, and the right to equal opportunity in all facets of life. We will never stop defending these fundamental human rights and rejecting hatred, discrimination, and fear.

Taking shape in the wake of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City, Pride Month is both a protest and an opportunity for LGBTQ+ people and allies to come together in celebration of love, peace, and freedom of expression and identity. That’s why, as we reflect on the past, present, and future of LGBTQ+ activism, we’re also reveling in the incredible joy radiating around the world this June!

To learn more about the relationship between feminist peace and LGBTQ+ rights, we asked WILPF staff and members who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community to share their thoughts and reflections. Check out the Q&A below!

1. As an LGBTQ+ individual, why did you decide to advocate for feminist peace?

Adélaïde: I always believed that these two efforts would go hand in hand. I don’t see feminist liberation and peace without LGBTQ+ liberation and peace following closely behind. Existing at the intersection of these two struggles, I am proud to dedicate myself to feminist peace and the well-being of my LGBTQ+ comrades, not only at WILPF but everywhere else.

Ray: I believe in equality for all on our own terms. Not equality within heteronormative patriarchy, but equality based on a complete, non-binary understanding of the possibilities of life. For me, feminist peace is part of a more expansive, inclusive approach to solidarity and care, and must embrace a queer understanding of justice, freedom, and love.

2. How do you think LGBTQ+ and feminist causes intersect?

Rebecca: Most oppressed groups are held down by the patriarchy, capitalism, and colonialism, all of these factors are vital components for the ongoing suffering of minority communities, including both women and LGBTQ+ people. An intersectional lens is imperative when looking at both feminism and LGBTQ+ causes; you cannot liberate one without the other. For example, feminism must include all women, trans women, and non-binary people. We cannot uplift one group of women and leave some behind in our attempt to dismantle the patriarchy. 

Madeleine: Let’s call out the obstacle to both causes: patriarchy. Combining our thinking and activism is what patriarchy fears most.

3. What are you celebrating this Pride month?

Adélaïde: In this month of Pride, I celebrate queer joy! Of course, we still have a long way to go, and our efforts are never easy, but during Pride I like to take the time to sit back and watch the celebrations of our lives, our claims, and our victories take over the world. 

Ray: The support and love of my queer friends, and the defiance, resilience, and courage of LGBTQ+ folks around the world who stand up for each other and have made our collective visible existence more possible despite the violence, backlash, and oppression.

Madeleine: The fact that in my lifetime we have seen incredible progress. Push back for sure and the forces of evil are stirring against us, but I love that my daughter’s Gen Z generation sees us all as so, so normal it’s almost boring!

4. Which LGBTQ+ victory is most dear to you?

Adélaïde: The most precious victory for me at the moment is the number of parades that are being organised for the first time in small towns, or villages, in France. I didn’t grow up in a very LGBTQ+ friendly environment, and I know that I am no exception. Seeing that many grassroots actions are happening in such unconventional places gives me a lot of hope for the future. This is where it all starts. 

Jessica: We must remember that Stonewall was a riot. A violent protest against decades of systemic police brutality. It was a defining moment in the fight for LGBTQ+ equality in the US, and led to real change when nothing else seemed to work. Our elders, led by trans women of colour, rose up so that today I can enjoy the privilege of just being my authentic self, let alone having a family and a career doing what I love. The best way to honour Stonewall is to recognise our community’s intersectionality and be actively anti-racist.

5. Which current LGBTQ+ situation concerns you the most?

Ray: Violence against trans folks is extremely concerning, as is the denial of trans lived reality by some feminists. Violence against all LGBTQ+ people continues, and conceptions of militarised masculinities facilitates this violence – as does the availability of guns. Material inequalities for LGBTQ+ people also persist, and much of the mainstream gay rights movement has not addressed the key concerns of queer people in many contexts, including access to housing, employment, and safety.

Rebecca: I am most concerned about the situation in Ghana. The escalating anti-LGBTQ+ policies are truly devastating and a breach of fundamental human rights. I am also concerned about the Don’t Say Gay Bill in the United States and the banning of trans women swimmers from female competitions, whereby years of progress are being reversed at an alarming rate.

6. What would you like to say to other LGBTQ+ feminist activists?

Adélaïde: I see you, I feel close to you, and I thank you for being here. Growing up, I had few models to identify with, so I thank the previous ones for having paved the way and the current ones for continuing the path. I am proud to be by your side and to become the role model I was looking for as a child. 

Rebecca: You are so loved and so important! Firstly, as an LGBTQ+ individual it’s all too easy to feel unloved, unwanted, and unimportant, but thanks to other LGBTQ+ activists I have found a community that feels like family. Secondly, please rest! Being an activist can be incredibly rewarding, but also can leave you feeling emotionally and physically drained, especially if you are advocating for a minority group you belong to. It’s okay to take a break and give yourself the permission to slow down that you give to others.