June is celebrated by many as Pride month. The first Pride march was established through the courage of Brenda Howard, a bisexual woman reverently known as the "Mother of Pride." This was due to her work coordinating first a rally and then the Christopher Street Liberation Day March to commemorate the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which happened on June 28, 1969. These riots were led by trans feminine people of color-such as Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson- tired of being targeted and criminalized by the police because of their race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality. It is important to remember, now more than ever, that Pride was initially rooted in active resistance to pathology, criminalization, racism, transphobia and queerphobia. Pride, at its best, is about celebration of the wonderful and essential diversity of genders and sexualities, it is about community and the family that many of us find with one another when faced with rejection or misunderstanding by our families of origin.
For many trans and queer individual and families, Pride is a time to remember that we are not alone, to celebrate our survival and to come together. Pride is also complicated given that in many places corporations use it as yet another way to push capitalist consumption and many parades often have a police presence, which can make Pride feel unsafe for many trans and queer people, especially Black and Brown members of our communities who are too often impacted by systemic violence. Yet, every year since 1970 in this place we currently call the United States, Pride is celebrated, mostly during the month of June and many trans and queer people find safety, acceptance and community through Pride-related events.
As marriage and family therapists we know how important systems of support are, how essential families and relationships, and a sense of belonging to community are to our well-being. As systemic therapists we are uniquely located to support queer and trans families, as well as colleagues, not only during Pride month but all year long. For example, we know from research evidence that family support is a protective factor for trans, nonbinary and queer youth and we can have an instrumental role in this process. In alignment with our code of ethics and our commitment to health across communities, we can disrupt the ongoing systemic dynamics contributing to systemic oppression and violence against trans and queer people, especially trans feminine people of color.
May this Pride season remind us that our communities thrive when we can celebrate the wonderful gender and sexual diversity in our humanity and that we, as marriage and family therapists, have a unique role to play in the ongoing survival, resistance, celebration and support of gender and sexual minorities.
Alex Iantaffi, PhD, MS, SEP, CST, LMFT, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Clinical Fellow and Approved Supervisor with the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists, Certified Sex Therapist with the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, Somatic ExperiencingⓇ practitioner, writer and independent scholar. Alex co-owns a small group private practice, Edges Wellness Center LLC, and is passionate about healing justice and community-based scholarship. They are adjunct faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, where they teach on the Graduate Certificate in Sex Therapy. They were the Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Sexual and Relationship Therapy for eleven years and have researched, presented and published extensively on gender, disability, sexuality, bisexuality, polyamory, BDSM, Deafness, education, sexual health, HIV prevention, and transgender issues. Alex is the Chair Elect of the Queer and Trans Advocacy Network.