Pride: Remembering our history, and looking towards the fight ahead

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The last few months have presented an incredible challenge for us, and this has changed how we'll be celebrating pride this year. We won't be able to go to parades around the country, or the world for quite some time.

But this doesn't detract from the importance of the pride season. Pride isn’t cancelled. We should use this as an opportunity to pause and reflect on where we are, how we got here and how far we still have to go.

The fight for equality so far hasn't been simple. And we're here today thanks to the work of many of our brothers and sisters over the years.

We haven’t always had the freedom we have today:

  • Homosexuality was a criminal offence in the UK until 1967 in England and Wales, 1981 in Scotland, and 1982 in Northern Ireland.

  • The age of consent wasn't made equal until 2000 (Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000).

  • Equal marriage came into effect in England and Wales on 13 March 2014 (The Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013) (and December of the same year in Scotland).

  • This didn't happen until 2020 in Northern Ireland, with the first marriage taking place on 11 February 2020.

  • Same-sex marriage is still illegal in many British overseas territories.

2020 marks 51 years since the Stonewall riots, a momentous stand against a police raid on the LGBTQ+ community. It's crucial that we remember this, and remember the names of those who bravely fought for LGBTQ+ liberation.

Countless people have fought for our right to exist

Image of Marsha P Johnson

Marsha P. Johnson - A black, trans sex worker and drag queen who is widely thought to have thrown the first brick at Stonewall. When demanded to line up against the wall by police, she threw a shot glass at the wall. This shot glass is now known as "The Shot Glass Heard Around The World".

Sylvia Rivera marching in Pride

Sylvia Rivera - A Latina, trans, sex worker, and close friend of Marsha Johnson. With Marsha, she co-founded S.T.A.R. (the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries). A radical political movement that also helped to shelter homeless queer youth and sex workers in New York City.

Photo of Raymond Castro holding a dog

Raymond Castro - A Latino, gay man who after being released by police, went back inside to help a friend. Raymond was the first to resist arrest and fight back against an officer.

Miss Major Griffin-Gracy waving from a car in a parade

Miss Major Griffin-Gracy - A trans black woman who was assaulted by police and taken into custody by the police. She's worked over four decades to fight for trans rights and elevate the voices of trans women of colour, a group who too often have their voices silenced.

These are not the only people who stood up at Stonewall, and these are not the only names we should remember through Pride month. Countless other LGBTQ+ people have fought for the advancement of our rights.

Harvey Milk, Barbara Gittings, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, Audre Lorde, Bayard Rustin, this list could go on endlessly to show the depth and breadth of people that have fought for recognition and equity for the LGBTQ+ community. All too often, facing persecution for it.

We must remember them, we must know their names, and we must know the history. There cannot be pride without remembrance.

The fight isn’t over 

To me, remembrance isn't just about looking into the past and celebrating though. Yes, it is about processing, understanding, and appreciating the momentous achievements of our elders. But it's also about evaluating how much more there is to do because the fight isn't over, especially right now:

After fighting endlessly for recognition, the Transgender community is still under threat. TERFs (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists) are using the argument of biological sex in an attempt to block trans women from access to safe spaces.

What’s next?

The trans community's fight for recognition, fair treatment and access to healthcare is essential, and can’t be fought alone. Trans people fought for the rights of the whole community, and it's time for the entire queer community to fight for the rights of our transgender brothers and sisters.

Across the world, Black people are demanding the justice that they've been denied for too long. So now more than ever, it's vital for us to remember who fought for our rights. Trans, queer, Black people and other people of colour stood up and put everything on the line for our liberation. It's time for the whole community to stand by their side and help in every way we can.

The education system failed a lot of us. We shouldn't be embarrassed about not knowing things we weren't allowed to learn. LGBTQ+ history or sex education isn’t routinely taught in schools. So we must accept the responsibility to educate ourselves, and others about our history.

Later this month, we’re hosting an internal panel discussion for Monzo staff. And we’re planning to put this online for everyone to watch afterwards. At Monzo, we have gender neutral toilets in all of our offices, ensure all options for gender are LGBT+ inclusive in the tools we use, have a private channel for all LGBT+ monzonauts to have a safe space to come together and have a field in our personal Slack profiles to share our pronouns. We’ll also be launching our new Pride Monzo community group later this year to help create a stronger community and sense of belonging for our LGBT+ employees.

Things to watch:

Paris is Burning, a moving documentary about the ballroom culture of New York.

The Death and Life of Marsha P Johnson.

Pose, a series about ballroom culture, the AIDS crisis in New York, and the trans experience.

Milk, a film about Harvey Milk.

People to follow:

Below is a list of inspiring people who are all doing great work within the community right now, they're all doing a massive range of things. It's worth checking out every one of them, following them, reading their tweets, articles, and learning as much about them and their work as you can.

Alexander Leon (@alexand_erleon) he/him

Asifa Lahore (@AsifaLahore) she/her

Ben Hunte (@BenInLdn) he/him

Chloë (@SimplyMsChloe) she/her

Jamie Windust (@jamie_windust) they/them

Lady Phyll (@MsLadyPhyll) she/her

Paris Lees (@parislees) she/her

Reeta Loi (@r_e_e_t_a_) she/her

Rhammel O'Dwyer-Afflick (@Rhammified) he/him

Shiva Raichandani (@ShivRaichandani) they/them

Tanya Compas (@TanyaCompas) she/her