Allies, now is time to put away the rainbow tees and face glitter.
Beyond the food, music and parade, the Twin Cities Pride Festival in Minneapolis this weekend is a time to show up, listen up and smarten up about the experiences of those in the LGBT community.
June was chosen as the official lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Pride month to commemorate the Stonewall riots of 1969, when police raided a gay club in New York City. The arrests sparked a riot that lasted for six days.
Minneapolis is also home to LGBT history. “Fresh Fruit”, on KFAI, a Minneapolis noncommercial radio station, is the longest-running weekly queer radio show, on air since 1978. In honor of Pride, we talked to host Quinn Villagomez about social media, being an ally and why it’s not OK to say “Hey, ladies.”
Q: What are the do’s and don’ts of attending the Pride Festival?
A: The “do” is, of course, to go and to support and to learn about LGBT culture, to learn about the transgender community, things like that. Have a great time and be supportive.
The don’t is you definitely need to be careful about pronouns. Instead of saying, “Hey, guys” or “Hey, ladies,” learn from people. Not everybody identifies as masculine and not everybody identifies as feminine.
You also have to be really sensitive about taking photos and posting things on social media because not everybody that goes to Pride is openly out to their family, friends or co-workers.
Q: How can someone be a respectful ally?
A: Being lesbian, being gay, being transgender or bisexual is not a phase, it’s part of our life. It’s who we are as people. I always try to encourage friends who are cisgender or are heterosexual to come to the events or listen to my radio show, just try to kind of understand my life and ask questions rather than labeling. I think that in our society today we are really quick to label. Also, the LGBT community is more likely to experience suicide and mental illness. So, it’s about educating and supporting and loving each other.
Q: What is the purpose of the monthlong celebration of Pride?
A: The purpose of Pride month is for the LGBTQIA community to really celebrate who we are as people and not our gender identity or our labels. It’s to celebrate who we are, to live openly and freely and to be ourselves.
Q: Pride events and festivals have been held for decades. Are they still important today?
A: I think we’re making strides in our community, whether it’s through activism or through pop culture. We’ve come a long way through adversity and we’re starting to make gains. But we still have a lot to say about who we are as people.
Pride also gives youth who identify in the LGBTQIA community a place to go. I didn’t have that when I was young. I never knew Pride existed.
Q: Thinking beyond just the month of June, what can allies do?
A: Continue to support and advocate for their loved ones. Learn about that person by sitting down with them and listening to them. Really embrace that person and their life, whether they identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender. Do what you can to advocate for them.
Q: How can we continue these conversations?
A: We need more events focused on the rights of LGBTQIA people, specifically transgender youth, panels and discussions.
I would also love to see more focus around trans women and men of color. Currently, they’re the most vulnerable people in the trans community. There needs to be a lot of advocacy for them.
Quinn Villagomez hosts “Fresh Fruit” and RARE Productions on KFAI the second Thursday of the month with co-host Roxanne Anderson. Listen at 90.3 Minneapolis, 106.7 St. Paul or online at kfai.org.
Twin Cities Pride Festival
What: Festival to celebrate and support LGBT communities.
When: 10 a.m. June 23 through 6 p.m. June 24
Where: Loring Park, 1382 Willow St., Mpls.
Parade: June 24, along Hennepin Avenue S.
More info: 612-255-3260, tcpride.org