The LGBTQ+ Pride season typically brings with it an assortment of parades, festivities, and celebrations each June. This year, though, we find ourselves instead feeling deeply somber and heartbroken. The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery within the past few weeks have shaken our society to its core, laid bare systemic police brutality for all to see, and sparked protests in every corner of our nation. As a gay man, I have been deep in thought about what Pride should even look like while America is reckoning with its deeply ingrained racism.
For LGBTQ+ people, I believe that conversation needs to begin with a recognition that our progress has always rested heavily on the shoulders of those in our community who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). From Marsha P. Johnson and Stormé DeLarverie to James Baldwin and Laverne Cox, BIPOC individuals have been critical voices and activists for advancing the queer cause. Pride, like so much of this country, has been built on the backs of BIPOC individuals.
While the above is not an exhaustive account, understanding this past leads to a simple and necessary statement about our present: Pride 2020 must be about standing in solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter. At the very foundation of both movements are conversations about and reckoning with power and privilege. Both movements are focused on dismantling systems of oppression and -isms. And we must recognize the parallels we see with today’s activism — protests and riots outside the Stonewall Inn were the catalyst for LGBTQ+ liberation from police brutality. These movements have never been separate at their theoretical core, but we must also grapple with the recognition that BIPOC contributions have often been left uncelebrated or ignored in the Pride movement – a sign that the LGBTQ+ community is no freer from racism than many of the institutions that it rightly critiques.
As we navigate Pride this year, I would encourage you to think about a quote from the modern transgender visual artist, Micah Bazant, who said, “No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us.” There is no true LGBTQ+ Pride without #BlackLivesMatter.
But what does it mean to stand in solidarity, both within PAEA and PA education more broadly? What is the role of health care providers and medical educators in the context of these movements? If this powerful moment is to become the moment that it should be, Pride 2020 must be about taking action. What does that look like? As an Association, we don’t have all the answers; we are grappling with these issues the same as many of you.
Over the coming days and weeks, PAEA will be providing resources and insights through our various channels to help PA education actively create a more inclusive, anti-racist space. But one thing we can do right now is to create the space for voices that might usually go unheard. So, for Pride Month, we’re inviting faculty, staff (including PAEA staff), and students to share their perspectives and experiences in the form of a Networker article or social media post. We invite LGBTQ+, BIPOC, and allies to step forward and tell their stories of inspiration or pain from school, the workplace, or health care setting, either as a patient or caregiver, anonymously or not.
If you are interested, please reach out to our communications team at communications@PAEAonline.org or me at zbritt@PAEAonline.org, and we will help get your stories out there. Now, more than ever, the world needs to hear them.
There is much work to do, and we can make real progress. But only if the collective “we” are committed to making space for marginalized voices, taking specific and meaningful action, and holding one another accountable for change.