It's been nearly five decades since the tradition of Pride rose from the ashes of the Stonewall riots, and it has never been more popular. Last year New York City's Pride celebration broke attendance records with a parade 30,000 strong and over 2 million observing from the sidelines. City-wide celebrations have spread to every continent—including Antarctica.
In 2015 the Supreme Court's ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act allowed same-sex couples all over the country to get married, and activists celebrated but acknowledged that the fight isn't over. "While same-sex couples could today legally marry, tomorrow they could lose their jobs," Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon said shortly after the ruling. "The time has come for us as a nation to be bolder and better."
Last week, a group in Philidelphia introduced an update to rainbow flag design that has represented the LGBT community since 1978, adding a black and a brown stripe to represent minorities within groups. The slogan #MoreColorMorePride became a call for action to create a more inclusive environment for black and brown bodies in Philly's Gayborhood—and the world. "There's more we can do. Especially when it comes to recognizing people of color in the LGBTQ+ community," reads the campaign. "To fuel this important conversation, we've expanded the colors of the flag to include black and brown."
As Pride NYC 2017 approaches, we asked a few members of the LGBTQ+ community to voice their thoughts on the phenomenon. Five animators to sent us a GIF and described their own relationship with Pride. Below, Kelsey Wroten, Minister Akins, Jess Mac, Erma Fiend, and Jeromy Velasco share their words and artwork:
My name is Kelsey Wroten and I am an illustrator and comics artist originally from the Midwest, now living in Brooklyn. Sadly, like many folks, coming out to my family was far from great. They have chosen to shut themselves off to that part of me, making our relationship extremely strained and conditional. However, in spite of this, my life since then has been awesome. The friends I've made in the queer community have treated me with the acceptance and dignity that I couldn't find in my biological family. That's one of the many, many reasons why Pride is so important to me. I want to celebrate these sacred communities and celebrate myself as well as those who fought and died before me.
I'm a gay animator and I was excited to collaborate with writer Hollis Holmes to make this GIF for Pride 2017. The original Pride spirit was about an act of revolution. "Love is Love" waters down this history of survival, resistance, and joy that comes from celebrating who we are. With marriage equality, we think that assimilation equals real love and acceptance, in spite of the violence many people face by way of bathroom bans and worse dehumanizations regardless of being married or not in this country.
I'm an illustrator & GIF maker based out of Los Angeles. Much of my work is influenced from queer nightlife culture, interweaved with 90s cartoon nostalgia, 60s psychedelic animation, and outsider art. I think Pride is about being able to high-kick through all sorts of obstacles, like a crab trying to snatch your wig. Its about owning and embracing your inner queen/king and despite any form of resistance it's about flaunting it and being unapologetic.
This GIF is from one of my video art pieces, 'An Overcast on Palm Sunday #1.' The project focuses on a male figure wearing female church hats against a gray backdrop to symbolize gray overcast on Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter. I created this piece for a group show focusing on Spring. It was created during a time when I wasn't 'out' to my family. It speaks on gender nonconforming, in my eyes. I continue to create artwork that challenges the oppressive views of religious society, especially in the African American church.
I think Pride is great, but, like a lot of things, it's too commercial and exists for a certain category of the LGBTQ+ community. I think people outside of the community look at Pride as a weekend theme park, and put us all in that category of what 'gay' is, in my opinion.
I am an artist and activist who works under various names on assorted projects so as to critique the methodology of neoliberalism within the Internet Age. I am also deeply invested in supporting queers, feminism, prison abolition, decriminalizing HIV and sex-work, and ending white supremacy.
For me, Pride means fighting for those in the queer community who are most oppressed – not for celebrating gay marriage, white privilege, homonationalism, and police and corporate participation in a parade.
See more work from Kelsey Wroten, Erma Fiend, Jeromy Velasco, Minister Akins, and Jess Mac on their websites. The GIF in the body of this article is by Geo Law, an artist supporting the LGBTQ+ community from the outside. Visit GIPHY for more Pride-related GIFs.