Queer Joy: What Is It? Why We Need More Of It?

Queer Joy: What Is It? Why We Need More Of It?

Illustration: Henrick Dulin/Oxfam

June is widely marked worldwide as a Pride month - a celebration of the LGBTQI+ community and commemoration of their struggle for equal rights and justice. We say “widely” and not “universally” because although LGBTQI+ people live in every country and are part of different religious, ethnic and cultural communities, their existence and equal rights are not universally recognised. In a world experiencing wars, famines and other crises, it’s easy to not keep in mind things that propel justice and equality.

As a global movement fighting for an equal and just world for everyone, Oxfam celebrates Pride month to express gratitude to our LGBTQI+ partner organisations and activists for contributing to social progress, human rights and equality. This year we’ve teamed up with artists, LGBTQI+ 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 understand, even if you’re not an LGBTQI+ person. You may have experienced queer joy while eating a cake at a same-sex wedding, when our same-sex friends celebrate an anniversary, or when your company hires a transgender colleague. Queer joy is even more critical for LGBTQI+ people. It sustains the fight for being recognised as equals before the law and in the eyes of society. It is even more precious for LGBTQI+ people in contexts where progress on gender justice is minimal.

Queer joy is a positive feeling we get from encountering signs of progress in gender equality and gender diversity.

Queer Joy is Powerful

Research proves that a robust feminist movement is the most powerful factor for progress in eliminating gender-based violence and moving closer toward gender equality.

LGBTQI+ movements are a significant 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 legally performed and recognised in 30 countries - Chile and Switzerland are the most recent additions. It is inspiring and empowering to see LGBTQI+ rights recognised 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 and 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 LGBTIQ+ community supports its members 365 days a year. It’s now up to our governments and us to support the LGBTQI+ 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. LGBTQI+ people are disproportionately affected by every crisis that hits the world – from climate emergencies to wars. They experience adverse effects of the “ignored pandemic” of gender-based violence and the social and economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Queer joy is 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, LGBTQI+ activism continues to result in positive change. The message of gender equality is winning the hearts and minds of people worldwide. Strong people uplift queer joy despite the struggle. They take that step forward, no matter how small.

Queer Joy is for Everyone

Everyone has a role in bringing together a just and equal world for all. Together with different teams, campaigns and partners working on advancing gender justice, we’ve developed a Queer Joy Manifesto to express how such a world may look like for LGBTQI+ 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!

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