Pride Service Announcement
Words: Jill Perkins
Photos and video: Desiree Melancon
I am struggling writing this article because everything I write down sounds so fucking privileged, but here we go… The space provided in the snowboard industry for members of the LGBTQ+ has been increasing; brands are getting involved, flags are hanging from windows and store fronts, people are being celebrated. The truth of the matter is, I, and many others involved in the LGBTQ+ community, are lucky. This article is an ode to those who have courageously come before me, sharing their stories, standing up for themselves and their communities, showing the world that who you love does not, in fact, hinder your capability of greatness. My name is Jill Perkins. I am a woman. I am a snowboarder. And I am queer, or I may be gay... I guess I don’t really know. But what I do know is that I am who I am, I get to love who I love, and that’s a beautiful thing.
After opening up about my sexuality and sharing my story a year ago, I realized that it directly correlates with my snowboarding, my relationships, my family and my ability to wake up every day feeling a little more confident in who I am. Instead of hiding from these conversations, I have finally decided to ask the questions so I can familiarize myself in hopes of helping others feel seen, heard and safe.
For a long time, I never did my research. When it came down to getting involved and allyship, I looked at life with the “ignorance is bliss” mindset. Selfishly, taking the time to learn and listen seemed like more of a headache than a necessity. I figured having these queer feelings inside of me was enough. This is where I am wrong.
Ignorance is not bliss, and even though my personal environment feels safe and strong, there are others who do not get to experience life as easy as it comes to some. I never really acknowledged the fact that the ease of my situation is a direct result of other members of the LGBTQ+ community boldly coming before me and sharing their stories.
First off, I didn’t even know why June has been declared Pride month. Other than social media vomiting a visual display of all the partying and fun people are having based around the celebration of self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility of the LGBTQ+ social group, I never actually knew why. So, yesterday, for the first time in my queer life, I hit the Google search bar looking for some answers and this is what I found.
The month of June is Pride month. Celebrating Pride came about on June 28, 1969 when police raided a gay bar in Manhattan, New York by the name of “The Stonewall Inn.” A riot broke out as police officers aggressively hauled people out of the bar. Supporters of the Stonewall Inn staged an uprising to resist police harassment and persecution, which LGBT Americans were subjected to. This led to a six-day protest which served as a catalyst for the “Gay Rights Movement” around the world.
Although this was the beginning of a time where embracing who we are was made possible, changing the laws doesn’t always parallel to changing minds. Homophobia and prejudice still exist.
There are many people out there who struggle everyday existing where they are in the world. I truly believe that those of us who are fortunate enough to have a space where we feel comfortable should be able to listen and work on becoming better allies so others can feel the same way.
Allyship is 24/7—not a month out of the year. After a few podcasts, articles and digging in my feelings, I’ve put together a few ways to becoming a better ally:
- Ask questions
- Stay informed - If you do not know the difference in sex and gender and/or other LGBTQ+ news, educate yourself. This includes pronouns.
- Make room
- Confront your own prejudices and bias, even if it is uncomfortable to do so.
- Take a stand - If you see LGBTQ+ people being mistreated or misrepresented, speak up. It educates others and could give them the courage to stand up as well in the future. Studies show that if someone speaks up, who is not a part of the marginalized group, people listen more.
Get out of the Fixed Mindset - It’s the understanding that learning and adapting to these ways may be challenging and uncomfortable but doing it.
- Take on an active role - It is one thing to believe in a safe place, but what matters is creating one.
As you can see, I have realized I have a lot to learn. I wrote this not to lecture or preach but to encourage everyone, our communities and our government to learn about our history. To not be afraid to ask questions and to be curious about our past. Feeling insecure about not knowing enough information to partake in the controversial conversations that are continuously happening around us should not discourage us from getting involved.
I would like to create a place for others to come forward with confidence in their true selves and be able to feel comfortable and loved. We, as humans, can feel lonely and unseen, but we don’t have to.
I hope this piece finds you with enthusiasm in your willingness to listen and learn how to become an ally and a friend. The resources are out there for when people are ready to educate themselves at their own pace.