First, let’s talk about how we got here and why LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit Pride is important.
Quick Intro to Queer History
On June 28, 1969, the LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit community experienced a monumental riff, catapulting it into a new era of activism, social change, and forward motion. During the Stonewall Uprising in New York, what began as a police raid at the Stonewall Inn – a practice common during that time – led to six days of events between police and LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit protestors. While it is important to note that the Stonewall Uprising was certainly not the first interaction between police and the LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit community, nor did it mark the beginning of queer activism, it did serve as a pivotal moment in the movement toward the decriminalization of same-sex relationships and LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit acceptance.
In 1970, on the one-year anniversary of the rebellion at the Stonewall Inn, LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit activists gathered once again to commemorate the event with the first-ever Pride march. This was a true political statement proclaiming to the world that the LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit community was no longer going to hide in dark corners or underground bars. They were here to stay. Throughout the next 50-plus years, queer individuals experienced strides in countrywide acceptance, leading to the end of many anti-sodomy laws, the lifting of many LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit federal exclusions, the ability to serve openly in the military, and, finally, the right to legally marry.
Why This Matters
This Pride Month, as we once again reflect on the history of this annual celebration and the progress we have made as a country, it’s difficult to not feel the sting of anti-LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit – and specifically anti-trans – legislation that has taken over legislatures throughout the country. With hundreds of bills nationwide aiming to eliminate LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit participation in sports, access to medical care, and free speech in classrooms, this year has broken records for the number of anti-LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit bills proposed and passed.
Sadly, South Dakota is not immune to this disturbing trend. Our very own state lawmakers have been attempting to erase trans South Dakotans from everyday life and hinder our ability to make personal health care choices for years. Most recently, Gov. Kristi Noem signed into law House Bill 1080, legislation that prohibits doctors from providing life-saving gender-affirming care to transgender youth.
As we continue to celebrate our community and right to exist this Pride Month, it’s crucial each of us commit to keeping the positive momentum going. Don’t let your spirit go dormant after the festivities stop. Don’t wait for the next Pride to join in. And don’t wait for someone to ask you to do something. Be proactive! Any action you can take has an impact, whether it’s getting involved in local politics or showing up to an event hosted by a local LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit nonprofits.
Your voice and your support will leave a lasting impression.
What You Can Do
Here are five actionable ways you can stand alongside the LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit community during Pride Month and beyond.
Participate in the political process *regularly*
- Vote in every election you’re eligible for, that means municipal, school board, presidential, everything!
- Show up during legislative session and help stop bad bills
- Take action with local advocacy groups like the Transformation Project Advocacy Network and the ACLU of South Dakota
Call out and stop discrimination
- In the workplace
- On the streets
Incorporate inclusive language in everyday conversation
- Include pronouns in your email signature
- Use gender inclusive salutations
Support the LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit community before, during, and after Pride Month
- Attend events sponsored by LGBTQ+and Two Spirit advocacy groups
- Share information and resources posted online by local nonprofits
Tell your friends about the work LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit advocacy organizations are doing
- Support businesses that support the LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit community
- Spend your dollars at business known to fund LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit causes
- Share positive reviews online for businesses known to support LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit causes
Have other ideas? Let us know! Sound off on social media with #Pride