SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — June marks Pride Month, a time to recognize and celebrate diversity and the impact the LGBTQIA+ community has made in society.
“What it really is, is a celebration of self-acceptance and a celebration of self-love. Which are things that everybody could use a little more of,” said Sam Ortiz, member of Shreveport’s Q-Prom organization.
“Pride Month is a space for people who maybe are not of the norm, as are seen by the wider populous, to come together and celebrate their innate characteristics and identities. And to really create a space for those individuals to work through all of the traumas and things they’re endured throughout the year, in community with people who are like them,” said Steven Knight, member of Shreveport’s PACE (People Acting for Change and Equality) advocacy group.
“And really working together to make our spaces more viable places to live so that we can be not only a part of the community for the community but making the world a better place for those who come after us. Pride month is a great time to really be doing that.”
Pride Month commemorates the 1969 Stonewall riots, which was a turning point in the fight for LGBTQIA+ rights.
“There is so much history behind Pride Month,” Knight said.
“So much turmoil and struggle for acceptance that a lot of people have endured. Pride Month is a space for people who maybe are not of the norm, as are seen by the wider populous.”
According to a 2020 study done by the Center for American Progress, more than 1 in 3 LGBTQ Americans faced discrimination of some kind in the past year.
“We don’t want to forget that there are still plenty of people who encounter violence, just for trying to be who they are — especially our black trans women,” Knight said. “And we cannot forget how important it is to protect people who are just trying to be themselves.”
Ortiz says there is a more inclusive feeling in Shreveport compared to other communities.
“By and large, Shreveport is a lot more accepting overall than people expected to be,” Ortiz said. “For the most part the city just has embraced these queer events and so many of our city’s leaders have embraced these events.”
For the rest of the month, everyone is invited to embrace the events, as well.
“That’s why we’re passionate about providing these resources now for this community, so that we can grow and heal. So that there’s just a lot more acceptance and love here,” Ortiz said.
“We can write the story of what living in North Louisiana is like for all people — no matter what their creed, race, religion or sexuality is,” Knight said.
If you’d like to attend Pride Month events or help volunteer, there is a comprehensive list of activities that can be found here.