June Tri-Polish Challenge, Day 4: Pride and gratitude

Today is day four of the June tri-polish challenge. June is LGBTQ Pride month, and as this month’s colours – red, pink and purple – are present in some of the many symbols that represent parts of our very diverse community, I’ve made a very special and very personal mani. There is not enough space for all symbols, but I do mean them all, just like I mean all the other letters you can add to LGBTQ and the people they represent.

44 years ago tomorrow, following a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York City, gay men, lesbians and transgender persons began a protest that was to become one of the key events of gay liberation in the US. It is commemorated with Pride parades every June across the world. In places like Vienna and Berlin, they are colourful celebrations with wide support from the authorities and many non-LGBTQ participants joining in. In places like Budapest, Moscow and Kampala they are acts of defiance where the participants risk being attacked or arrested. In yet other places, it is too dangerous to hold Pride parades because you could be murdered just for being who you are.

This is for all those people who live in fear of imprisonment or death because of who they love. It is for those who have to hide who they are, sometimes even from themselves, out of fear of persecution or social disgrace. It is for those who live in countries where being gay is not illegal but may still cost you your job or home. 

This is for those who, in many of our so-called civilised Western countries, are denied the same rights as the rest of the population – the right to live with who they love and be recognised as next of kin in hospital, to marry if they wish, to adopt or to have a child together without the fear that if something happens to the biological parent, the other parent will not have the right to raise the child. 

This is for those who were born in the wrong body and have to go through complicated procedures – legal and medical - to get it rectified. It is for those who have to explain that gender is not always what you see on the outside. It is for those who do not conform to society’s expectations of gender roles. It is for those who are treated with distrust or distaste, with fear or even hate, because of who they are. It is for those who may be overtly accepted but still have to live with constant stereotyping. It is for those who get beaten up or bullied at school, or lose their friends, or do not have their parents’ support. It is for those who constantly have to explain that it’s not just a phase. 

Many of us are fortunate not to be facing direct danger to life and limb, but that doesn’t mean the problems aren’t real, or that people aren't driven to suicide by them, or that we shouldn’t try to change things.

This is for those who fought and those who died so we could have the freedoms we have today. It is for those who were killed for being different through the ages. It is for those who stood up and declared proudly who they were. It is for those who stand up today to struggle for equal rights, or even basic human rights. It is for those who are fighting to preserve the rights that others would take away from them. It is for those who are working tirelessly to achieve equality in countless seemingly mundane matters others take for granted. It is for all allies and friends of the LGBTQ community. 

This is for everyone hovering at the closet door, unsure whether to take the step into that terrifying, exhilarating freedom of a world where you can be who you are and say it loud and proud. This is for my family.

Nail polish cannot change the world, but symbols can. Visibility can. Courage can. Solidarity can. Today I wear our symbols with pride and gratitude and change my own little corner of the world.

Yours, with love,
the nail newbie

If you are curious about the symbols, you can find out more here, here and here.
Please have a look at the nail art the others have for us today!


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