Story by Linda Yun
Illustration by Isole Kim
In the words of the wisest, June was a moth to the flame, and activism was holding the matches. For youth, June serves as a transition between chugging unholy amounts of coffee to the aching boredom of summer’s budding days. For corporations, it marks the start of an overdue attempt at allyship. And keyboard warriors love it.
As of late, criticism for rainbow logos have loomed over the sphere of activism. In the leaden trenches of Twitter, keyboard warriors criticize the move as “shallow” or “self-serving.” And they are right, to an extent. As more companies hop on the bandwagon of splashing paint on their logos, the rationale behind rainbow colors gets lost in fragile facades. But even despite Rainbow Capitalism, critics often forget that while the symbols of pride — rainbow flags, the spectrum of colors projected onto the historic walls of the White House, etc. — might only be suggestions, their efforts in whole still beckon forth a shift to a more equal future.
June is Pride month — one of the most nationally recognized heritage months. But, being less commonly known, June is also Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month, Immigrant Heritage Month, and PTSD Awareness Month, among others. The scale on which Pride Month operates does not detract from the validity of the other groups that are brought to light. “Justice for all” is not a shaker on a budget. It does not run out of pepper after a predetermined number of people have gotten their share. Just because one underrepresented group is receiving validation for their existence does not mean that other groups/causes are any less shunned.
The truth of any realm of progressive activism is that while different groups are steering towards different visions of change, they are called to a similar destination. Although most people grow up in a convergence of communities, intersectionality is not very intuitive. By understanding the structures that affect and oppress folks living in intersectional spaces, we take a much-needed step towards recognizing the authentic selves of those whose place in society had once been determined by their label.
June is important not because the message it sends is more important than that of other heritage months, but because the breadth of its organized efforts is deeper and wider than any that have come before it. From the resistance of the Stonewall Uprisings after police raided a gay bar in the 1960s, to the peak of the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020, June has been a host to the world’s most famous acts of resistance. And the story of this memorable month is not ending soon.
By crowning a month to reverberate the voice of change, we have created a hotspot where previously communal challenges are fired onto the national stage. Cliché as it is, the only way for equality to be realized — for our foundational principles to be anything other than dead Madisonian paper — is by way of intersectionality. And June has struck the matchbox.