Pride month has officially arrived! It’s a time to celebrate and support the beauty of LGBTQ+ people and their freedom to live their lives as themselves and pay homage to the past, present and future of the community.

In the wake of escalating anti-trans laws and threats against LGBTQ+ people across the country, it is especially crucial to amplify and amplify community voices. To commemorate Pride Month 2022, the Human Rights Campaign – the largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organization in the United States – released “My First Pride,” a video story of LGBTQ+ people ages 8 to 65. years sharing details of their first Pride party.

Alise Maxie (they/she), one of the teens featured in the video, celebrated their first Pride in Houston in the summer of 2018, after coming out to family and friends. Dressed in bright red rompers and with Pride flags pinned in their hair, they basked in the support, love and energy of the LGBTQ+ community.

“I remember going to Pride and seeing all the different types of races, ethnicities – all these different types of people in one field, celebrating who they were and being openly free in themselves” , said Alise, 21. “It was a lot of music, a lot of dancing, food and fun. It was a safe space. It was the first time I had seen so many gay people in one neighborhood. It was one of the best things I’ve ever seen. It really opened my mind to a lot of things.

As national headlines testify, states continue to pass dangerous and discriminatory laws that seek to roll back LGBTQ+ rights. The Human Rights Campaign reports that at least 18 states have passed laws to prevent transgender children from participating in sports. Five states have passed laws that severely restrict discussion of sexual or gender identity in the classroom, such as Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which has been signed into law and will take effect July 1.

In Alabama, gender-affirming care has been banned and made a crime – meaning providing services such as puberty blockers, hormones and medical procedures to trans youth under 19 is a felony punishable by 10 years. years in prison, according to HRC. In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott tried to categorize treatment and transitional procedures as “child abuse”. More recently, the state has proposed banning minors from drag shows, for BNC News.

“During Pride Month, we celebrate our stories of coming out, of healing within our community, and often, looking back on our first Pride – that very first time we felt safe to show ourselves fully and authentically.” , Joni Madison, acting president of The Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. “But this year, I hear stories that break my heart – stories of trans and non-binary children, their families, and the millions of LGBTQ+ people whose rights and lives are under threat. So this month of pride – I want us to show up for each other. We need everyone to pitch in, roll up their sleeves and get the job done. I want you to own and embrace all that you are, and refuse to hide your pride.

For those feeling discouraged, Alise has an important message.

“I do not want [young people] to let politics get in the way of their celebration,” they shared. “This month is to celebrate you. This month is for you. But we still have to keep fighting. Never give up on who you are, just carry on and remember to celebrate yourself. Then at the same time speak and use your voice because someone has to say something.

“Over the past two years, the queer community has been through a lot,” Alise continued. “But we can’t fight without love. So please use this time to celebrate who you are and your home in the home environment you need, because we can’t fight without a good support system. Let’s support each other now.