We've got a lot to be proud of

Yasss, it’s my favorite time of the year again! The time of year when streets all across the nation and our fair state of Massachusetts begin bursting with Pride. That’s right… I’m here for every single rainbow flag, parade, and free expression of love. And if we are just being honest… Damnit, no one throws a party like my LGBTQIA+ family!

Over the span of the next month there will be numerous events celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex culture. From coast to coast you will find members of the LGBTQIA+ community being proud, dancing in the streets, and living their truths out loud. However, as we begin preparing for the most colorful & fabulous time of the year, it’s also important that we as a society spend time reflecting on the history of Pride and the larger issues that continue to plague the LGBTQIA+ community. It’s true that we have made some progress, but we still have a long way to go. It is often out of severe oppression that great movements are born, and the aforementioned is absolutely true in the case of Pride. Though the present-day celebration has undergone numerous changes and transformations over time, what has not changed is the community’s continued battle for acceptance, equitable treatment and protections under the law, and demand for civil rights. Initially, Pride was created solely as a political demonstration with a mission to voice the demands of the queer community following the violent and traumatic events of the 1969 Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village, NY, where LGBT individuals resisted against discrimination and police brutality over a span of three days. As if a long history of brutality, violence, and discrimination weren’t enough to endure, try inserting the horrific treatment, lack of humanity, and basic care for the most vulnerable of communities during the AIDS epidemic. These were dark times for the LGBTQIA+ family, but with the onset of organized demonstrations such as PFLAG & ACT UP, infamous queer activists were born and great strides were made in the fight for simple compassion and palliative care. Despite being a tough pill to swallow as it pertains to the insurmountable number of deaths and associated trauma experienced by the queer community during the previous noted era, I also understand that it is because of those historic events and subsequent Human Rights campaigns that I am able to enjoy some of the rights we have to love, marry, & even toke medical cannabis freely today! Again, it’s amazing to see Pride grow and become celebrated worldwide. However, it also serves as a reminder of the continued advocacy, community, and policy work required before we achieve actual equality. It is often stated, “To whom much is given much is required”- in this space and time, I couldn’t agree more! As a cofounder of Elevate NE, I’m so proud of our commitment to ensure the full inclusion, participation, and economic empowerment of my LGBTQIA+ family in the regulated cannabis industry. As we continue the fight for federal legalization, we commit to doing our part to make sure no one from underserved communities is left behind.

In the Boston area this weekend? Check out Boston Pride 2018 schedule here.

About the author: TaShonda Vincent-Lee is cofounder and director of community outreach at ELEVATE NE. She is also a consultant to emerging cannabis businesses and entrepreneurs in Massachusetts.

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