Stay strong and love one another, featuring a special message from celebrity drag queen Thorgy Thor.
BY ALEXIS MCCAFFREY, STAFF WRITER
To all my LGBTQ+ folks, you are loved and you are heard. The month of June, AKA Pride Month has been a struggle for the community as explained by a recent White House statement. From laws created making drag performances illegal in various states, to accusations of association with MAPs or so called “Minors Attracted Persons” and of course the big company incidents from Target and Bud Light who faced pushback following their release of pride themed products.
My first experience with this new backlash was my annual Pride trip to Target who releases a line of pride merch every June. I was so excited to grab up some new pride outfits and even cute decorations for my house. However, this excitement was cut short.
According to Target’s statement on its 2023 Pride Collection, it spoke about the threats it received this year following their release. “Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work. Our focus now is on moving forward with our continuing commitment to the LGBTQ+ community.”
First, I always always shop at Target because they are one of the first big company brands to genuinely support LGBTQ+ people and give back to the community as they have offered pride merchandise for over the past 10 years. Sadly, this year some pride merchandise was sent back due to the horrendous backlash that occurred.
The first day I walked into Target I noticed the pride merch was displayed right in the front of the store for everyone to see. It was a very bold choice for a Target in Texas, but I was pleased and felt accepted with their choice. The following day when I came back, I noticed it was gone and I had to ask multiple employees where it had moved to. They either gave me blank stares or whispered quietly that the Pride Collection was near the back of the store.
The energy had completely shifted and I had no understanding as to why. Later, I hopped on my phone and saw this was a national phenomenon taking place in Targets across the nation as the backlash from displaying pride merch and tucked swimsuits brought chaos.
I was thankful Target still had pride merch, but the situation left me feeling slightly unaccepted as a LGBTQ+ individual, similar to what others in the community may be feeling. The best way I can explain it is with this simile: It is like entering someone’s home for the first time through the backdoor and not the front. It makes a difference and sends a loud message to that person.
The contagious feeling of a lack of acceptance in the United States has been flowing all throughout the LGBTQ+ community. It has left many of us struggling to feel excitement or feel ourselves during the one month that is dedicated to us, but, I am here to turn these feelings around and provide you with encouragement while also acknowledging these tough emotions that arise.
Pride has always been something I have looked forward to. It is a time of expression, creativity, and pure excitement. Its time to be seen and heard and to really just be yourself as a month of acceptance.
We are a strong community that will continue to overcome anything that comes our way. As shown by a cameo delivered to Mason students by RuPaul Show star and drag queen Thorgy Thor, we are a family and will always be there to support each other.
Students can additionally reach out to the LGBTQ+ Resources Center for support, who has supported students through events such as their Trans Clothing Closet and Gender Marker and Name Change Clinic among more.
Remember that we are loved and we are not alone in this fight. Continue to let your rainbow shine and don’t let this time deem your sparkle.