In a world drowning in wars, famines and other crises, it’s easy to forget about things that propel justice and equality. June is widely marked across the globe as a Pride month, or a month-long celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community and commemoration of their struggle for equal rights and justice. We say “widely”, and not “universally” - because although LGBTQIA+ people live in every country and are part of different religious, ethnic and cultural communities, their existence and equal rights are not yet universally recognized.
As a global movement fighting for an equal and just world for everyone, we at Oxfam are celebrating Pride month as a way to express gratitude to our LGBTQIA+ partner organizations and activists for their contribution to social progress, human rights and equality. This year we’ve teamed up with artists, LGBTQIA+ activists and their allies to celebrate queer joy. Here’s our take on what queer joy is and why we need more of it.
Queer joy is a positive feeling
Queer joy is an idea everyone can get, even if you’re not a LGBTQIA+ person. You may have experienced queer joy when seeing your same-sex friends celebrate an anniversary, your company hiring an amazing transgender colleague, or eating a cake at a same-sex wedding. Queer joy is even more important for LGBTQIA+ people. It sustains the fight for being recognized as equals before the law, and in the eyes of society. It is even more precious for LGBTQIA+ people in contexts where progress on gender justice is very limited.
Queer joy is a positive feeling that we get from encountering signs of progress in gender equality and gender diversity.
Queer joy is powerful
Research proves that a strong feminist movement is the most powerful factor for progress in eliminating gender-based violence and moving closer towards gender equality. LGBTQIA+ movements are a big and integral part of it. Queer activism and scholarship help expand our understanding of gender and sexuality, and champion the messages of diversity, acceptance and inclusion in our societies. As of 2022, marriage between same-sex couples is being legally performed and recognized in 30 countries, with Chile and Switzerland being the most recent additions.It is inspiring and empowering to see LGBTQIA+ rights being recognized as inalienable human rights by more states. That’s how we’ll win!
Queer joy is empowering
Queer joy helps sustain the struggle for social justice. Dealing with issues like gender-based violence and conversion therapy, constantly facing backlash and hate is exhausting. Pride Month gives us a welcome break to balance the fight with a well-deserved celebration. And the experience of Queer joy is not only felt during Pride. The LGBTIQA+ community supports its members 365 days a year. It’s now up to us and our governments to support the LGBTQIA+ community in creating a safe and welcoming environment for everyone irrespective of their gender identity and sexual orientation.
Queer joy is bittersweet
Despite the progress made in recent decades across the globe, we are still miles away from full gender equality. LGBTQIA+ people are disproportionately affected by every crisis that hits the world – from climate emergencies to wars. They experience negative effects of the “ignored pandemic” of gender-based violence, and social and economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic. So Queer joy is definitely bittersweet: even amidst the celebration we never forget those who fall victim to these crises due to their gender identity and expression or sexual orientation.
Queer joy is resilient
Sometimes the progress feels like two steps back and one step forward. However, despite all the challenges, LGBTQIA+ activism continues to result in positive change and the message of gender equality is winning the hearts and minds of people worldwide. Queer joy is to have a queer artist receive a prestigious award recognizing their contribution to culture, to hear a song celebrating same-sex love on the radio, and to have a chosen family to fall back on when your birth family fails you. Queer joy is rising strong despite the struggle, and taking that step forward, no matter how small.
Queer joy is for everyone
Everyone has a role to play in bringing closer the world that would be just and equal for all. Together with different teams, campaigns and partners working on advancing gender justice we’ve come up with a Queer joy Manifesto, to express how such a world may look like for LGBTQIA+ people. We hope that this vision will inspire more people – queer or not, to join hands in bringing it one step closer every day. Happy Pride month and may queer joy be with you!