Happy Pride Month! This month, we honor the memory the 1969 Stonewall riots, the series of demonstrations that catalyzed the LGBT civil rights movement. As with Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I honestly think we should be celebrating LGBT identities year-round. (And won’t it be cool when we don’t need to have recognition months anymore, because no one is marginalized?) But for now, it can be nice to have a month to remind us to reflect on and recommit to our support for one another. Sort of like a way to hit refresh on respect!
Today, I want to talk briefly about language, specifically the ways that language can empower and disempower people in non-dominant groups. Historically, LGBT communities especially have had to deal with their identities being misrepresented in language. Words are never “just words.” Words convey our thoughts and beliefs; whether we are conscious of it, they betray our values. Reexamining our language and making sure that it truly reflects respect is the first step toward advancing understanding—which, in turn, puts us on a path toward achieving justice.
My personal goal this month is to educate myself on gender and sexuality. I realized that it was a weak point of mine, during a conversation I had last week with my boyfriend’s grandmother, on a humid night in rural Rhode Island.