June 07, 2021
Stronger together: where feminism meets LGBTQ rights
Happy Pride, Feministas! Summer has arrived, things are finally heating up in our social lives, and after a year off due to the pandemic, the LGBTQ community is taking to the streets and waving the flag once again in the name of acceptance and love <3
As feminists, we hold that kind of radical inclusion and the fight for equality near and dear to our hearts, so today, we’re taking a look at the ways in which queer and feminist politics overlap and how third-wave feminism challenges us to be better allies.
Don’t get us wrong: this month is all about Pride, and we have no intention of inserting ourselves into something that deserves attention in its own right. But we do believe that it is in the best interest of feminism to show up, listen, and stand up for LGBTQ rights, because the goals of these movements are so deeply intertwined. Let’s dig in :)
Making space for intersectionality
The LGBTQ movement and modern feminism have a lot in common when it comes to the issues. We all believe in gender equality, ending gendered violence, sex and body positivity, the right to digress from traditional gender roles, and the importance of intersectionality within a movement. But it’s important to remember as we celebrate these similarities that the overlap hasn’t always been so clear…
As you may know, feminism has a fairly damning history with regards to inclusivity, and until the 1960s, failed to represent the rights of non-white, non-hetero, and non-cisgendered women in a substantive way. And in the same way that queer people have historically been left out of feminism, women have been erased in earlier iterations of queer politics, which often centered the voices of gay men.
It took the voices of queer feminists like Audre Lorde and Betty Friedan to push each of these movements to be more accepting of the other. And to help leaders of each understand that we’re stronger as an alliance than we are in silos--that if we’re intersectional in our feminism, we can work together toward our shared vision of universal human rights, safety, and even joy.
Taking on the patriarchy together
Once these ideas were reconciled, the term “queer feminism” emerged, which encapsulated a much broader, pluralistic perspective regarding sexuality and gender. After all, these two movements were up against the very same male-dominated power structures, and a more inclusive, intersectional coalition of patriarchy-smashing, loud and proud equal rights activists felt like an obvious next step.
Modern-day challenges to gender norms and the adoption of a more fluid understanding of gender and sexuality by this generation are a direct result of the work of both of these movements. Sure, references to the gender binary can still be useful as a reference point for feminism--after all, the patriarchy is deeply rooted in our culture and that’s what we’re trying to dismantle--but this more modern, intersectional version of feminism also recognizes the ways in which those lines can be blurred when it comes to individual identity, and understands those digressions from the norm as not only valid, but worth representing and celebrating.
A more perfect union in honor of Pride
Ever since the Stonewall riots in 1969, Pride celebrations have been an important way to commemorate the bravery, struggle, and triumphs within the movement and to give visibility to a community of people that has historically been silenced, marginalized, and underrepresented in the mainstream.
We owe so much to the feminists and LGBTQ activists that came before us, standing up for each other and redefining what it means to be a woman or whatever gender you claim, what femininity looks like across that spectrum, how we can hold space for our differences and revel in the possibilities.
Famous actress, producer, and trans activist Laverne Cox once said that “a lot of what feminism is about is moving outside of roles and moving outside of expectations of who and what you’re supposed to be to live a more authentic life.” And if you ask us, that perfectly encapsulates the essence of Pride.
Celebrating progress & being an ally
In a moment of hopeful optimism, women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony once said, “oh, if I could but live another century and see the fruition of all the work for women. There is so much yet to be done.”
Over the course of a century, we can proudly look back and say that truly so much has changed. And one of the most important lessons we’ve learned along the way is that as we continue to be open-minded--to embrace the perspectives and lived experiences of people from all walks of life--the stronger we become.
“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” - Audre Lorde
If we truly care to make change, and imagine a better world for women and humankind in the next century, then building a coalition that includes people of any gender, sexual orientation, race, class, ability, etc. is the only way forward.
So this month, it is our work as feminists to be allies and advocates for our LGBTQ friends, in ways that are substantive and not just performative. Show up to a parade, sign a petition denouncing anti-trans legislation, and be inclusive when you express your feminism. Because fighting for LGBTQ rights is fighting for feminism and we’re all in this together.