Celebrating Pride Month: Honoring Our History and Championing Our Future

As the Regional Human Rights Representative for Ontario with the Union of National Employees (UNE), it’s an honor to reflect on Pride Month and its profound significance. As a young Black woman and a member of our vibrant union, I am deeply aware of the intersecting struggles and triumphs that shape our collective journey towards equality and justice.

Pride Month, celebrated every June, is not just a time for festivity but a vital commemoration of a movement rooted in resistance and resilience. The origins of Pride trace back to the Stonewall Riots of 1969 in New York City, a pivotal event ignited by the relentless police harassment of the LGBTQ+ community. This historic uprising began at the Stonewall Inn, a sanctuary for many who were marginalized, particularly Black and Latinx members of the LGBTQ+ community.

It’s crucial to recognize the pivotal role that Black trans women played in the birth of the Pride movement. Marsha P. Johnson, a Black trans woman, alongside Sylvia Rivera, a Latinx trans woman, were at the forefront of the Stonewall Riots. Their courageous defiance against systemic oppression sparked a movement that demanded visibility, respect, and equality for all LGBTQ+ individuals.

Marsha P. Johnson’s legacy is a testament to the power of intersectionality in activism. She reminded us that the fight for LGBTQ+ rights is inherently linked to the struggles against racism, sexism, and economic inequality. Today, as we celebrate Pride, we honor her contributions and the countless others who paved the way for a more inclusive society.

For UNE and its members, Pride Month is an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to human rights and social justice. Our union has always been a staunch advocate for the rights of LGBTQ+ members, recognizing that a truly equitable workplace is one where diversity is celebrated, and everyone is free from discrimination and prejudice.

As a young Black woman within UNE, I am inspired by the rich history of intersectional activism. It motivates me to continue advocating for policies and practices that support and uplift marginalized communities within our union and beyond. From fighting for inclusive workplace policies to supporting LGBTQ+ members facing discrimination, our collective action is crucial in advancing the rights and well-being of all workers.

Pride Month is a time to celebrate how far we have come, but it also serves as a reminder of the work still ahead. By honoring the origins of Pride and the contributions of trailblazers like Marsha P. Johnson, we recommit ourselves to the ongoing struggle for justice and equality. Together, we can create a future where every individual, regardless of their gender identity, sexual orientation, race, or ethnicity, can live and work with dignity and pride.

In solidarity,

Des Hicken
Regional Human Rights Representative, Ontario
Union of National Employees (UNE)