At the start of my career in cannabis, long before I founded Kush Queen, I learned about the path to legalization in California and the shared history of the LGBTQIA+ community with cannabis.
From that moment on, I made it my mission to honor the Queer activists who came before us, the true OGs we can thank for providing us with safe access to this plant.
At Kush Queen, Pride is Honoring a Shared History
In the 1980s, Queer community leaders in San Fransisco ushered in the beginnings of legal cannabis as they worked to ease health and wellness struggles around the AIDS epidemic. Their real-life needs brought legitimacy to the medical cannabis conversation. Pictures of my Queer community heroes hang in my office; Cleve Jones, Dennis Peron, and Mary Jane Rathburn look over me as I run Kush Queen.
Brownie Mary, wearing one of her signature buttons.
Also on my wall of heroes is Marsha P. Johnson, another great reminder of gay liberation and how we got here today. Her beautiful smile beams back at me as I write this.
For those not familiar with her story, Johnson was a trans activist, self-identified drag queen, and a true survivor living in New York City. She was also one of the first protesters at the Stonewall riots in 1969. Many recall Johnson having thrown the first brick outside of the club, but the truth is no one really agrees on who or what started it (was it a brick? a bottle? or city cobblestone?).
Marsha P. Johnson Poster by MICAH BAZANT
Nonetheless, everyone does agree that Johnson and fellow trans activist Sylvia Rivera played a massive part in the spontaneous protest against a police raid in those early morning hours. This act of social uprising is often viewed as the first Pride celebration, sparking a series of events that would change the LGBTQIA+ community forever.
Pride is Revolutionary and Non-Conforming
Pride (as we know it today) is all about Queer celebration and love, but its roots are steeped in the journey of equal rights, visibility, and the acceptance of LGBTQIA+ people. It was never about rainbow-tinted capitalism, fleeting social media icons, and albeit, even super fun parades. Pride is about Queer liberation.
"Stonewall was, at its core, about people reclaiming their narratives from a society that told them they were sick or pitiful or didn’t even exist," writes Shane O’Neill, a journalist for the New York Times.
A 1970 photo of Marsha P. Johnson handing out flyers in support of Gay Students at NYU is seen here courtesy of the New York Public Library's "1969: The Year of Gay Liberation" exhibit. Diana Davies/NYPL/Handout via Reuters, FILE
After Stonewall, a new generation of gay activists emerged and organized, creating resources like the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR). These events and grassroots organizations focused on Queer individuals gaining access to equal rights as citizens while also helping the community find dignity, acceptance, and a sense of belonging within society. STAR, for example, provided housing and support to homeless LGBT youth and sex workers in New York City.
Pride is About Community and Peers Supporting Peers
For everyone at Kush Queen, Pride is about more than just a seasonal festivity, it’s about taking a stand, increasing visibility, and supporting our Queer communities all year round.
This year Kush Queen is donating 20% of proceeds from our Pride Collection to The Social Impact Center, founded by beloved Queer cannabis hero Felicia Carbajal, as well as to the Trans Latina Coalition, a local Los Angeles community-led, and founded organization.
Kush Queen 2022 Pride Collection
Queer Liberation is Still Needed
Currently, countless pieces of appalling legislation are moving through state governments as an attempt to target the rights of trans people, attack trans youth, and reverse decades-worth of progress.
According to the advocacy group, Human Rights Campaign, over 300 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were proposed in 2022 alone.
Sam Ames, the director of advocacy and government affairs for The Trevor Project recently explained to CBS news "research has shown that as many as 85% of trans youth say that they are watching these debates over their identity play out,". Ames continues "the direct results of these bills when they pass are to take away things that we know are correlated with increased mental health and decreased suicide risk: sports team participation, seeing yourself represented in a classroom, being accepted by your parents and your healthcare professionals. These are all associated with significantly lower odds of attempting suicide."
It feels like Queer liberation is more important than ever, especially with such blatantly coordinated attacks against people who identify as such.
Pride is Personal
Inclusivity and visibility are part of Kush Queen’s DNA. From the all-gender restroom to the Queer individuals who appear in our content and work behind the scenes, Kush Queen's identity as a brand is unapologetically gay.
As I get choked up thinking about my own experiences and identity, I can’t help but think about what a personal intimate experience celebrating Pride is for me. As a human, I self-identify not only as the CEO of this company but as a Queer woman surrounded by countless other Queer people in my life. People who are my family, friends, and frankly, my inspirations. I think of my parents raising a Queer son in South Louisiana and not once did anything but accept him for who he was.