In most of the U.S., June is LGBTQ Pride Month, culminating with the biggest and oldest festival in NYC that happened the last week (the same week the Stonewall riots happened in 1969, setting off the modern gay rights movement). Pride Month this year is shadowed by mourning, anger and some fear after the tragic assault-weapon massacre of 49 LGBTQ people at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on June 12. (In fact, the owners of the club, which was named in honor of one of the owner’s brothers, who died in 1991 of AIDS, marched on the lead float in New York City.) But all that’s not to say that Pride 2016 hasn’t been joyous–for some, perhaps more so, just to prove that homophobic attacks can’t break the rainbow-colored spirit of the LGBTQ community. Here’s a look at super-cool LGBTQ ladies in cities throughout the U.S., what they’ve done or are doing for Pride, and where they’d take you if you showed up as a guest in their hometown!
WHO: Abby Stein, 24, student, Columbia University, Manhattan
PRIDE PLANS: I attended the NYC march with a group of trans friends, as well as attended a breakfast beforehand with Jewish Queer Youth, a support group I’ve been working with the last year. I’ve been raising awareness about trans people who, like me, come from fundamentalist religious communities, especially Ultra-Orthodox Jewish ones.
AFTER ORLANDO: In the last few weeks, I’ve had several support sit-in groups with friends and allies to address the tragedy and think about what we can do to bring an end to the violence and hate against the LGBT community. I’ve spoken with a few friends who’ve expressed some fear of attending the March because of the recent events.
SUMMER PRIDE LOOK: Rainbows! And colored leggings. They’re just screaming for visibility! I’d love to find a great blue, pink and white dress–the colors of the transgender community’s flag–but I’ve had no success with that so far!
SUMMER SONG: "People Like Us” by Kelly Clarkson. I grew up speaking Hebrew and it’s the first song I learned in English four years ago. It still feels sentimental to me, about self-expression and freedom.
PRIDE FOOD: There’s nothing better than an outdoor BBQ alongside stir-fried vegetables and then a strawberry-banana smoothie!
TALK LIKE A NEW YORKER: I wish I could! While I was born, raised and never lived outside of New York geographically, I grew up in an isolated religious home and community, so it feels like I only moved here three years ago!
WHO: Lex, 24, genderqueer, archaeologist, and Aspen, 25, genderqueer, performance artist, Boston
PRIDE PLANS: We went to Boston Pride and Portland (Maine) Pride. Aspen marched in Boston’s parade with the Ghosts and Gravestones sightseeing tours while Lex met friends and cheered on those who worked. Then we headed over to the festival for the rest of the night. For Portland Pride, we brought a friend from Belarus, where gay marriage isn’t legal. Within a few minutes, there were tears staining her cheeks at the emotion and the joy of the event.
AFTER ORLANDO: The morning after Boston Pride, the tragedy flooded our newsfeeds. We immediately got in the car and drove to Trinity Church in Boston for a candlelight vigil and shouted with the crowd, “I will not be afraid, I will not be silenced.”
SUMMER PRIDE LOOK: For Boston Pride, Lex wore all black with a rainbow tie and a “Queer” hat. For the Portland Pride, we wore rainbow socks and ass-kicking boots!
SUMMER PRIDE SONG: Halsey’s “New Americana.”
TALK LIKE A LOCAL: "That’s wicked quee-ah!“