June is LGBT Pride Month: no matter who they are or whom they love

13 June 2021, Kathmandu

What is LGBT pride month?

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month is celebrated with gusto each year by the sexual and gender minorities community worldwide including Nepal to commemorate Stonewall Uprising, the riots that began on June 28, 1969 to stand up against the police brutality.

The Stonewall uprising was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. Initially, United States in the last Sunday of June celebrated as “Gay Pride Day” however the actual day was flexible. Then, in major cities across the nation the “day” soon grew to encompass a month-long series of events.

LGBT pride is the promotion of the self-affirmation, dignity, equality and increased visibility of the sexual and gender minorities as a social group. The term ‘pride’ itself is so powerful that is opposed to shame or social stigma and which bolsters the movement for LGBT rights and identity.

Why the Pride month is celebrated on June?

LGBT pride month occurs to commemorate the Stonewall riots which occurred at the end of June 1969. As a result, many pride events are held during this month to recognize the impact of LGBT people have had in the world. It was initially inspired by the 1969 Stonewall Uprising and works to achieve equal justice and opportunity for LGBTQ Americans.

Patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City staged an uprising to resist the police harassment and persecution to which LGBT Americans were commonly subjected. After around a month of that incident, individuals belong to the community proceeded marching a parade for their rights to equality.

The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that LGBTQ individuals have had on society locally, nationally and internationally. It is also common for memorials to be held during this month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS.

How pride month is celebrated?

During the whole June month, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia, music and concerts, drama. The LGBT Pride Month events are likely to take place which attract millions of participants around the world. People with different gender identity, expression, sexual orientation and sex characteristics also celebrates the pride month organizing different programs all over the world.

Pride month and LGBTIQ movement

The pride month has since evolved into the nationwide movement in pursuit of the liberation of LGBTIQ+ peoples. During the pride month, throughout the year different organizations host pride parades in Nepal. LGBT rights organizations such as Mitini Nepal, Blue Diamond Society also organizes pride parade in Gaijatra festival that brings LGBT people to dance on the streets during the festival. However, this year and the prior year as well, due to the COVID-19 pandemic the LGBTI community are not able to marking the parade but have been celebrating the month virtually. 

How Mitini Nepal is celebrating the Pride Month?

Sarita KC, the Executive Director of Mitini Nepal,  an NGO working for the rights and dignity of women with LBT identity shared, “LGBT Pride month is important that uplifts the visibility of the LGBTIQA+ community as they also exist, and pride month further inspires those to disclose their gender identity and expression with pride.”  KC also stressed on that the LGBT community observes pride month organizing rallies with a rainbow flag, banner, ply cards, face paint along with music and dance to seek an end to discrimination against the community and to ensure their human rights.”

She also shared that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mitini Nepal is unable to organize parades and other gatherings physically this year too, but is planning to mark the pride month by publishing photo feature with quotes of those individuals in the community who are ready to come with their gender identity.

Furthermore, Mitini Nepal is also providing relief packages that includes food items and COVID essentials such as sanitizer, facemask, sanitary pads and other medicines like paracetamol to those hardly hit by the pandemic including the daily wage earners in the community. With this, the organization is publishing the research about COVID-19 impact on the LBTI and COVID case studies.

President of Mitini Nepal, an NGO working for the rights and dignity of women with LBT identity, Laxmi Ghalan remarked, “International LGBTIQ Pride Month as colorful June month is an important month for the LGBTIQ community, and which is celebrated with pride throughout the June month. It is an entire month dedicated to celebrating who we are and who we love.”

What is pride month in the eyes of women with diverse identity?

Swostika Pariyar, a lesbian shared, “I was completely unknown about the pride month till I came to know that I am a lesbian. LGBT also have equal rights to live with dignity as other human beings and lesbian also should enjoy their rights as other women.”

Kabita Tamang, 27 of Sunsari is a bisexual woman who came to know about her gender identity 7/8 years before. She was born as the youngest among three sisters and most lovable child of her parents. According to Kabita, “June as pride month makes special importance for the sexual and gender minorities community as it provides an opportunity to celebrate one’s sexuality openly. Pride month is also important to raise public awareness regarding the LGBTI issues and such celebrations should take place across the country.”

Salina Chaudhary, 29 of Kapilvastu is a transgender woman though was biologically born as a male child of her parents after three sisters. Salina who was compelled to live six years alone away from family has confronted with many hurdles fighting for her identity. She said, “June month is a month of happiness, pride and solidarity for the LGBTI community and thus each member in our community should unite to end all forms of discrimination, violence and stigmatization that still exist in the society”. She believes that the discriminatory laws have created many problems in education, health and employment sector for the community. COVID-19 pandemic lead to an increased risk of homelessness as many are involved in unorganized working sector and has become jobless.

What problems still exist?

Nepal is the only South Asian country to legalize homosexuality and protect rights of LGBTI individuals as their rights have been guaranteed by the constitution. Article 12, 18 and 42 of the Constitution of Nepal 2015 has guaranteed the right to have citizenship with identity of descent and gender, right to equality and right to social justice.

Despite the remarkable progress in legal provisions, LGBTI communities in Nepal are still facing discrimination, stigmatization, violence and hatred. Supreme Court in 2007 has legally recognized homosexual relation in Nepal though same-sex marriage is still not legalized.

Due to the lack of acceptance from families and societies, they are not coming out of the closet. Thus, pride month is further pertinent to embrace the diversity within the same ending discrimination.

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