On Pride Month & Attending the Congressional LGBTQ+ Innovation Summit

June is a special month for the queer community. Colloquially known as Pride Month, it commemorates the launch-point of the gay rights movement - the Stonewall Riots - and allows us to celebrate and honor the champions and voices who have brought us to where we are today. In a political era where rights for marginalized communities are being rolled back and equality is spread disproportionately even amongst the LGBTQ, it also reminds us to reflect upon what remains to be done.

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to attend StartOut’s Second Congressional LGBTQ Innovation Summit, a convening of queer leaders, entrepreneurs, and activists with the mission to increase our visibility in the workplace. Throughout the day’s panels and networking events, there were a few topics that came up time and time again: the recent passing of the Equality Act in the House; the rise of the first openly gay 2020 presidential candidate Pete Buttegeig; the Trump Administration’s continued attacks on trans people in the military. But one word seemed to define the Summit: intersectionality

When asked what he believed to be the next big fight for our community, former U.S. Ambassador Rufus Gifford gave a two part answer. Internationally, he believed, it would be the rise of the far right; domestically, it would be much more internal. It would be a fight to embrace all elements of our community and its many diverse voices. 

Just before the Summit, Michelle “Tamika” Washington, a Black trans woman, had been murdered in Philadelphia. Only weeks earlier, Muhlaysia Booker was fatally shot in Dallas. She was 23. Trans women, especially trans women of color, experience discrimination, harrassment, and violence at alarming, disproportionate rates - but their stories rarely make headlines, even in our own community.

It’s important, also, to step outside of the queer community. During a brief appearance at the Summit, Rep. Mark Takano stressed that the Equality Act would not have passed without the solidarity of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Civil Rights Act. “Be grateful, and remember what has come before us.” 

For that reason, and for many others, Pride Month can be a celebration. A celebration of those who came before us and paved the road to the rights that we have today. But we must remind ourselves of the necessity of inclusion and intersectionality. These rights are not just for the white, or the wealthy, or the cis. 

Nicole Cozier, the Human Rights Campaign’s Senior Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion said it best during her panel: “Center your voice. Educate yourself. And always ask who is not in the room.” 

Here is a list of movies and TV shows to watch this Pride Month that show the full spectrum of our community: 

Vida - This award-winning Starz series tells the story of two Mexican-American sisters who move back to Boyle Heights, Los Angeles after the death of their mother, and provides a powerful look at Latinx queer identity. 

Tangerine - Shot on an iPhone with a shoestring budget, Sean Baker’s breakout film follows transgender sex workers as they hunt down an ex-lover. The film’s leads are openly transgender actresses, a rarity in an industry that typically casts cisgendered actors in these roles. 

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga - This 2019 romantic comedy broke major ground as the first Bollywood film to feature a lesbian relationship. Just one year earlier, in a historic ruling, India’s Supreme Court declared that gay sex is no longer a criminal offense in the country.

Eyes Wide Open - This acclaimed romantic drama revolves around the relationship between a married Orthodox Jewish man living in Jerusalem and a Yeshiva student who comes to work in his shop. Featuring prolonged sequences of religious rituals, the film highlights the struggle so many people in religious communities face as they confront their sexual identity.