June is Pride Month — a time when issues of gender become a focus of news and conversation around the world. This report provides reference to a variety of gender-related topics and news updated for 2023. This is an evolving document and will be updated over time. For more related to this topic, read “Diversity Report 2023.”
Perspective and Audience
This document is written by and for those who are on the periphery of the LGBT community in an effort to promote understanding and acceptance.
The document contains descriptions, terms, and language to make it more accessible and relatable to those with other perspectives.
There’s a small but vocal group of people who want you to be perpetually angry about and fearful of various minorities based on their identity and labels. Getting some context can help you be more informed and understanding.
Judith Butler offers a helpful introduction and overview for gender discussions in a video by Big Think from 8 Jun 2023. [View Video on YouTube]
Pride Month this year will likely be more prominently in the news due to a variety of recent events:
- Uganda has invoked the death penalty in some instances for LGBT people as a law, and others have severe cultural repercussions and persecution of LGBT people.
- In the United States, the “don’t say gay” sentiments and various laws targeting the LGBT community are generating more conversation.
- Several high profile companies have been the focus of national news, with people protesting any LGBT themed advertising or products.
- The rising prominence of news stories and controversies related to transgender people has resulted in forceful resistence such as the 2 June 2023 commentary by Megyn Kelly where she refuses to use preferred pronouns. [Source]
Purposes of Pride Month
There seem to be several purposes for Pride Month and beneficial outcomes.
- ADVOCACY — It’s an opportunity to remember and support those who are in a minority group that sometimes gets underrepresented, persecuted, and marginalized.
- DISCUSSION — It is an opportunity to annually spark a public discussion about gender issues. Hopefully a respectful collective democratic discussion will be like a booster shot for society to help broaden our perspective and make us more welcoming of others.
- CIVICS — When we start thinking of the welfare of others, it inspires us to be civically engaged and look for ways that our society can support everyone.
Pride Month is celebrated in June in recognition of the Stonewall events of 1969. On 28 June 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn and arrested gay people. This sparked the Stonewall riots and in the days following, led to the LGBT movement and LGBT Community rising up against persecution.
Themes and Terminology
Here are some of the related themes, terms, and topics currently in the public discourse.
- Education — Much of the tension surrounding discussions about LGBT-related issues involves education and youth. Most of the arguments are a result of the word “sex” being both a verb (activity) and an adjective (describing biological sex based on body parts). An explanation about two women or two men in a relationship may refer to “sex” as a biological attribute without talking about “sex” as an act. The primary concern educators have is the risk of abuse children may have at home or in public. Strict parents may harshly punish children for socializing with peers outside of their religious group, or race, or structured gender stereotypes. The abuse at home combined with being stigmatized and outcast in society causes some to run away or end their lives. This is why educators are taking an interest in promoting understanding and an accepting environment in schools. When parents say, “We know what’s best for our children,” that is generally true, but children can be in danger in some households.
- Gay Agenda — A common trope when vilifying a group is to claim a conspiracy exists whereby the members of the group are engaged in a coordinated effort based on a secret manifesto and strategy. The term “gay agenda” was popularized in the 1990s as a derogatory accusation to create suspicion and fear of gay people. To the extend that a “gay agenda” exists as a collective influence on society, it could be understood through the work and impact of prominent gay business leaders, politicians, musicians, and actors such as Tim Cook, Pete Buttigieg, Elton John, and Nathan Lane, or similarly of lesbian business leaders, politicians, musicians, and actors. It’s hard to make generalized statements about large diverse groups, but there seems to be an overall positive contribution to humanity from people in the LGBT community.
- Grooming — Increasingly in 2023, opponents of the LGBT community have made the demand “Stop Grooming Our Children.” This statement implies that gay people are trying to convert children to the LGBT way of life. People in the LGBT community might proclaim that opponents of the LGBT community are grooming children to be intolerant, hateful, fearful, oppressive, paranoid, and violent toward those who are viewed as ‘different’ than they are. Young people certainly are influenced by adults. Hopefully we can be an example of how to get along with others. It’s not about grooming, but rather helping people feel accepted. When we celebrate Cinco de Mayo, it’s not an effort to groom people and make them convert to become Mexican. Black History Month isn’t an effort to groom people to become Black. Similarly, in June, Pride Month isn’t an effort to groom anyone to become gay. If anything it’s about “grooming people” to become accepting of others.
- Religion — The Christian Bible teaches in Galatians 3:28 that there is not “male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” [Source] This scripture verse does not take a position on LGBT issues, it simply reminds us that spiritual pursuits bring down barriers and distinctions that would otherwise separate people. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is an effort to have more inclusion and acceptance in society. In a 31 May 2023 Fox News segment, former NFL football player Chris Valetta stated “America has been a DEI country since the first minute” and “Jesus would be highly in favor of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.” [Source] In other words, the Biblical teachings suggest we should be kind to everyone. Companies that set DEI goals are not trying to make you gay, or Black, or an immigrant, or a Veteran, or a member of some other underrepresented group. They are simply trying to help people feel included and accepted.
- “From LGBT to LGBTQIA+: The evolving recognition of identity” — National Geographic, Erin Blakemore, 19 Oct 2021. Excerpt: “As society’s understanding of diverse sexual identities and gender expressions has grown more inclusive, so has the acronym used to describe them.” [Source]
- “Sex-Gender Distinction” — Wikipedia. Excerpt: “Though the terms sex and gender have been used interchangeably since at least the fourteenth century, in contemporary academic literature they usually have distinct meanings. Sex generally refers to an organism’s biological sex, while gender usually refers to either social roles based on the sex of a person (gender role) or personal identification of one’s own gender based on an internal awareness (gender identity).” [Source]
- “Sex, Gender, and Why the Differences Matter” — AMA Journal of Ethics, Jennifer Tseng, July 2008. Excerpt: “First though, it is necessary to point out that the terms sex and gender are not synonyms. Sex refers to the biological differences between males and females. Gender refers to the continuum of complex psychosocial self-perceptions, attitudes, and expectations people have about members of both sexes.” [Source]
- “The ABCs of L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+” — New York Times, Michael Gold, 21 Jun 2018. Excerpt: “Times and attitudes have changed, and the language used to discuss sexual orientation and gender identity has also changed. As a result, the established L.G.B.T. abbreviation has acquired a few extra letters — and a cluster of ancillary terminology around both sexuality and gender.” [Source]
Cinco de Mayo
We have celebrations in the United States that show acceptance of others who might be a minority. Cinco de Mayo is an example. These celebrations are reflected in our education system. If schools acknowledge Cinco de Mayo, it’s not an effort to convert children to become Spanish speaking or adopt cultures from south of the border.
A few goals of Cinco de Mayo could be:
- Help young people realized there are other cultures and languages in the world.
- Help young people be more accepting of those in society who are different.
- Help those who are different feel acknowledge, welcomed, and valued.
The same is true for other similar public events that acknowledge people and history.
What began as the LGBT movement has evolved to be described with the letters LGBTQIA+ with the important plus symbol on the end to convey “Plus Others” who might not be represented by the other letters. The longer acronym is more inclusive.
Another reason for the bringing together of somewhat disparate independent and unrelated communities of individuals is to create a political block. When independent minority groups are fractured, no one splinter group can have much influence on politics or society. They will compete against each other for funding and news coverage. As a larger unified block, their impact can be amplified. The creation of LGBT as a group identity allowed for greater influence. By bringing in Q, I, and Allies, the political block grows. We see a similar phenomenon when independent groups forming to establish larger ones such as “Asian and Southeast Asian” students or voters or citizens. It’s a practical way for groups to work and pursue common goals. Also we see that indigenous groups will typically form alliances to have greater impact. So, the LGBTQIA+ community of individuals may not otherwise have common connections other than the desire to cooperate on common goals such as equality, freedom of expression, and avoiding discrimination.
Someone who doesn’t completely fit the norms of behavior or activity for their biological gender might be considered part of the broader movement. Examples would be women who compete in NASCAR or women who play football. They aren’t likely to be persecuted, but still might be considered outside the current norm and they help expand social views about gender.
There was a time when women wearing pants was considered very controversial. Before receiving the Medal of Honor, Doctor Mary Walker was arrested for wearing pants. In 1923, the U.S. Attorney General declared it was legal for women to wear pants anywhere. At that time, wearing pants would be considered as not “gender conforming” since pants were thought by some to be a garment for men. Even today in some countries and cultures women are pressured to wear dresses and persecuted if they don’t. However, today in the United States, women wearing pants is no longer considered unusual.
People in the LGBTQIA+ community who regularly face bullying and persecution may not appreciate someone else who claims to be part of the movement because they sometimes wear a unisex shirt.
There will undoubtedly be a wide spectrum of experiences among those who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Some people, because of who they are and where they live, will face more persecution. Adults who are confident in who they are and live in accepting communities will have less of a struggle.
The addition of QIA+ serves a very important role, but may not be always used since people don’t like long acronyms that are hard to remember.
Examples of traditional gender roles are found in old black and white movies and TV shows from the 1930s to 1950s featuring actors like John Wayne.
The term heteronormative refers to people who fit into a traditional gender expression and orientation — macho men and feminine women who are “straight” people. This is also referred to as gender binary.
The term gender binary is sometimes considered a derogatory term because many people who are gender binary believe any other gender expression or belief is wrong.
However, there can be people who are heteronormative and gender binary who also accept others who don’t fit into traditional gender roles.
Target Pride Display 2023
In May 2023, the Target Pride Display unintentionally caused Pride Month to start a few weeks early with national news coverage about the display and those who were offended by it. For the full report, read, “Target Pride Display 2023.”
Below are two images from the Pride display which convey how restrained corporate America feels about representing any potentially controversial topics such as politics, religion, or gender-related issues.
You just know there was a corporate boardroom somewhere with executives trying to figure out how they can display gay people so as not to offend anyone. They came up with these images of happy attractive young men and women looking like traditional male/female couples.
So, that’s about as “gay” as corporate America is willing to be. Unfortunately, efforts to appear inclusive, if muted, can have the opposite effect and offend opponents and supporters of a group or cause.
Below are recent related news reports conveying some context as well as current events. Entries are listed with the most recent first. The source and date are provided as a header.
PBS NewsHour (31 Aug 2023)
“How the rise of anti-LGBTQ+ hate and violence is impacting the community” — The murders of several LGBTQ+ people and allies in recent weeks are raising alarm across the U.S. O’Shae Sibley was stabbed to death in Brooklyn after police said he confronted a group who made homophobic slurs and Laura Ann Carleton was killed in California for apparently refusing to remove a Pride flag from her store. Geoff Bennett discussed more with GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. [Source]
PBS NewsHour (26 Jun 2023)
“Some retailers pull back Pride plans after conservative backlash” — June is Pride Month, a time when companies show their support for and celebration of the LGBTQ+ community. But this year, right-wing backlash has forced some to rethink Pride. Boycotts, employee harassment and threats of violence prompted companies to pull back plans. William Brangham discussed this with Bob Witeck of Witeck Communications, a firm specializing in LGBTQ+ marketing. [Source]
PBS NewsHour (12 Jun 2023)
“Families with transgender children struggle to navigate wave of anti-trans politics” — Texas is the largest state in the country to ban transition-related medical care for minors, joining 19 other states that have restricted access. Laura Barrón-López recently spent time in Texas to learn more about the law and spoke with one family grappling with what’s next. A warning: this story includes discussions about suicide and depression. [Source]
Global News (9 Jun 2023)
“Tensions flare in Ottawa over anti-trans protests” — A week into Pride Month 2023, the clock seems to be ticking backward. It wasn’t that long ago that the fear and vulnerability that was being felt for generations in the LGBTQ2S community seemed to be slowly easing. Yet, tonight we have another sobering reminder of the hate and open aggression that still exists. Touria Izri reports. [Source]
NBC News (9 Jun 2023)
“Pride 2023: Out Front” — Trailblazers in the worlds of media, culture and politics who are changing the conversation on LGBTQIA+ representation and acceptance while battling against backlash. Hosted by NBC’s Joe Fryer and featuring Trace Lysette, RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Jinkx Monsoon and Tony-nominee J. Harrison Ghee. Also featuring drag stars Kennedy Davenport and Brita Filter. [Source]
Big Think (8 Jun 2023)
“Berkeley professor explains gender theory” — Sex, gender, and the debate over identity explained by Berkeley professor Judith Butler. [Watch on YouTube]
OxfordUnion (5 Jun 2023)
“Kathleen Stock Questioned by Oxford University Students” — Kathleen Stock is a philosopher, writer and formerly a professor at the University of Sussex, until she resigned in October 2021 following attacks on her by colleagues as well as a student campaign. She has spoken against proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act, which would allow gender self-identification without a medical diagnosis. In her book, Material Girls, she defends the notion that biological sex is real and not a continuum. [Source]
- NOTE: The above video is provided to offer balance for educational purposes to hear a controversial academic articulate questions and thoughts about gender that are contrary to the current LGBTQIA+ movement.
Today Show (4 Jun 2023)
“Companies face backlash for LGBTQ support in online culture war” — A small, vocal group of people has gathered online encouraging a boycott of one of America’s favorite brands, Target, which is just the latest company to find itself in the crosshairs of a culture war alongside Bud Light. NBC’s Blayne Alexander reports in this week’s Sunday Focus. [Source]
CBC News (3 Jun 2023)
“Some Ontario communities push back against flying the Pride flag” — Ontario’s York Catholic District School Board recently voted against flying the pride flag at its Catholic Education Centre in June. This comes after the township of Norwich, Ont., voted to exclude Pride flags and all other non-civic flags from being flown on its property in April. [Source]
MSNBC (3 Jun 2023)
“Velshi: Attacking LGBTQ rights is a losing political strategy” — There has been a lot of extra noise on social media in recent weeks; videos of people destroying cases of Bud Light and others trashing Pride displays at Target. With Pride Month upon us, the far-right hysteria over rainbows and equality is in full swing. [Source]
CNN (2 Jun 2023)
“The Moral Case for Defending Trans People (Alyssa Farah Griffin and Rabbi Jay Michaelson)” — In this excerpt from CNN Tonight, Alyssa Farah Griffin and Rabbi Jay Michaelson discuss the moral values at stake in defending transgender people against lies and violence directed against them. [Source]
MSNBC (2 Jun 2023)
“‘Why now?’: Pride Month kicking off at the center of a culture clash” — Pride Month is kicking off at the center of a culture clash, but GLAAD’s new report shows most Americans support acceptance, freedom and equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community. [Source]
NBC (2 Jun 2023)
“Large corporations forced to ‘balance’ pride campaigns amid threats of violence against employees” — Big companies are facing public backlash and are being thrown into culture wars for their support of the LGBTQ communities. Director of Special Projects at the National Center for Transgender Equality Josie Caballero joins Meet the Press NOW to discuss how companies are addressing pride campaigns and safety concerns. [Source]
NBC (2 Jun 2023)
“Parents protest Pride event at Los Angeles elementary school” — Multiple parents gathered outside Saticoy Elementary School in Los Angeles to protest an optional “Pride Day” assembly that included a video reading of a book that showcased families with “two mommies or two daddies.” The school district stands by its decision to approve the book with support from counter protesters. NBC News’ Niala Charles reports. [Source]
NBC (1 Jun 2023)
“Companies under fire as Pride Month kicks off” — June is Pride Month and as many celebrate, some corporations are stepping into a fierce fight over transgender issues in the U.S. Target, Bud Light and Kohl’s are just a few of the companies getting backlash. NBC News’ Stephanie Gosk has more details. [Source]
Fox News (31 May 2023)
Here are some statements made by former NFL football player Chris Valetta on Fox News about Diversity Equity and Inclusion after Chick-fil-A was criticized for establishing DEI policies:
- “America has been a DEI country since the first minute”
- “Jesus would be highly in favor of Diversity Equity and Inclusion”
So, when you hear about DEI, know that it’s something Jesus would probably support. This is part of a segment with Fox News hosts praising and supporting Chick-fit-A at a time when conservatives are calling for a protest of the company. The video has been queued to 3m 47s. [Source]
KTLA 5 (31 Jan 2023)
“Redlands, California City Council votes to not fly Pride flag” — By a 3-2 vote, the Redlands City Council has opted to not fly a Pride flag over City Hall for Pride Month. The move has brought condemnation from those in the city’s LGBTQ community, including one member of the City Council. [View]
VICE (11 Jan 2023)
“‘Be A Man’: Modernists and Traditionalists Debate Masculinity” — There are many faces of masculinity. It means a lot of things to a lot of different people. What do modernists and traditionalists think about masculinity? What does it really mean to be a “man”? [Source]