June is LGBTQ Pride month and like most everything throughout our country, our normal parades and festivities have been canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Pride festivities have been a significant part of my life since I came out of the closet at the age of 14. Without the public celebrations this year, I’ve had time to slow down and consider how truly important Pride is.
What excites me about Pride festivities is the opportunity to be my true self among the rest of my community and my supportive family in an affirming environment. This helps to soothe the pain from the bullying and discrimination that I’ve experienced as a gay man. It is also a way of standing up against a society that for too many years has demanded our silence to ensure their comfort. The challenge is to find that sense of pride and authentic self every day, and not just during the month of June.
The slowness of this year has also given me the opportunity to reflect on the history of the LGBTQ movement.
Pride started as an uprising, largely led by black and brown LGBTQ individuals.
In that moment, at Stonewall, in 1969 and during the subsequent years, these members of our community were quite literally fighting for their lives. Far too often, not enough credit is given to the elders of the LGBTQ community, and they are deserving of our gratitude.
Our current environment has also renewed my sense of advocacy. The LGBTQ community has made tremendous progress, and our fight is not done.
Marriage equality and this month’s Supreme Court ruling against workplace discrimination are significant wins. However, we must keep amplifying our voices on issues that include: transgender protections, discrimination in religious organizations, and a lack of cultural competence in health care that results in increased health disparities, particularly among the black LGBTQ community.
We need leaders who will put in the work to ensure the entire LGBTQ community receives full equity. We need our allies to realize how they vote can have a detrimental impact on the lives of their LGBTQ family and friends. Now is also the time for the LGBTQ community to stand up and be strong allies in the fight against racial injustice.
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A friend recently reminded me that Pride is more than the parade. There may never be a better time than now, to turn that sentiment into action.