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    Welcoming Juneteenth to the Celebration of Liberation and Freedom

    By Andrea Shorter–

    Spring has sprung, summer is here, and Pride is back with a vengeance, baby!

    As we come out, come out from wherever we’ve been sheltering in, on, and off for the past 18 months to step back into the sunshine with our vaccinated selves, we carefully, yet eagerly, ease away from the artificial warmth of glowing laptop screens beaming in another Zoom meeting or visit towards actually reuniting in person with other real live human beings we’ve had to love from afar (or at least 6 feet apart from) for so very long to enjoy whatever festivities are underway in this last week of Pride 2021.

    Parade or no parade, masked or unmasked, you can’t hide the smiles, joy, and relief that celebrating Pride brings now. Of course, even as we endure the global and life-changing impacts of a pandemic, and the residual effects of the last four years of hardcourt press to quash any LGBTQ civil rights gains in the past half century, we know that we never left Pride, and Pride never left us. In fact, our community Pride has and must continue to carry our resolve and resilience to stand against pressures to divide, demean, and devalue our history, our rights to downright exist fully as our authentic selves, and to erase our trials, tribulations, and representation in the American story.

    However we are healthily and wholeheartedly celebrating and embracing this year of LGBTQ Pride, let’s also celebrate in equal robust fashion that Pride now officially coincides with Juneteenth. As of President Biden’s signing of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act on June 17 of this year, June 19 is a declared federal holiday and time of national reclamation of the fundamentally significant history of the emancipation of African Americans from slavery.

    Juneteenth is no longer a secret, in the closet. While it has been acknowledged and celebrated in vanguard largely by African American communities, families, and in faith for years, Juneteenth belongs to us all, and always should be for everyone who values liberation, freedom, and equality. As LGBTQ people, we should be at the forefront of welcoming and embracing the historic significance of Juneteenth.

    The currents of the present anxiety-riddled movement against presenting critical race theory to new generations of an increasingly multicultural society are beyond disturbing. It’s a signal of distress that presenting, correcting, and being truthful about who, why, and how we are related in the evolution of this society are real threats to the crumbling “normalcy” of a racial majority dominance. The quest for normalizing the teaching of critical race history goes hand in hand with normalizing LGBTQ history and contributions towards the fight for liberation, freedom, and equality.

    Taking pride in our own pride is the heartbeat of hope that keeps us moving forward, resilient to erasure, and stronger in our quests to live and love authentically, on our own terms. We are still forging the rocky roads to obtain and sustain our rights as fully equal LGBTQ people in this society and around the world. The dual open celebrations in June for Pride and Juneteenth should make the travels along the way towards freedom for all more vibrant and illuminating. Happy Pride. Happy Juneteenth.

    Andrea Shorter is a longtime Commissioner for the City and County of San Francisco, now serving on the Juvenile Probation Commission after 21 years as a Commissioner on the Status of Women. She is a longtime advocate for gender and LGBTQ equity, voter rights, and criminal and juvenile justice reform. She is a co-founder of the Bayard Rustin LGBTQ Coalition, and was a David Bohnett LGBT Leaders Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

    Published on June 24, 2021