Even though some cities hold their PRIDE celebrations as early as April, Philadelphia’s Black Pride was held in April; June will always be the official kick-off month for PRIDE celebrations in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community.
This year we certainly have had a lot to celebrate. On the heels of a national election where LGBT rights were included as part of the larger issues facing all Americans by not just a national standard bearer but the President of the United States, it appeared as if our day had finally arrived.
Marriage equality had its day in court and as we await a ruling from the Supreme Court the number of states recognizing same sex marriage has grown to 12. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) might still be on the books but it’s on the ropes headed for a TKO if not by the courts then by individual states taking a stand for the rights of same gender loving couples and their families.
We’ve seen an east coast sweep of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Delaware, and Maryland; in-roads to equality in the heartland states of Iowa and Minnesota; and the great state of Washington representing the west coast, as well as in the District of Columbia with Illinois waiting in the wings to welcome same gender loving couples.
Attitudes are changing. High profile personalities who are out like George Takei, Ellen Degeneres, Wade Davis, Anderson Cooper, Jim Parsons, Jim Nabors, and others to name a few and the recent coming out of Robbie Rogers, Brittney Griner, and Jason Collins have moved the dialogue forward immeasurably.
We looked like YOU. We were just like your sons and your daughters. We’d been your heroes on television, in the movies, on the grid iron, on the soccer field and on the basketball courts. And there was Oprah sitting on the couch with Jason Collins and his entire family saying it’s all right. A national aha moment “They’re here. They’re queer. So y’all just need to get over it.” (OK, Oprah didn’t say that but I bet she was thinking it.)
This June we really have something to celebrate as we have our PRIDE marches, picnics and various festivities but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
We, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans are still under attack, at risk and that we must never forget.
Last year thirteen transgender Americans were murdered and the violence continues with even more deaths including the murders of Kayla Moore and Cemia “CiCi” Dove.
In February, Marco McMillian, a black mayoral candidate, who was also gay, was found on the Mississippi River levee murdered.
And as we prepare to kick-off a month of PRIDE, New York City has been rocked by a series of homophobic attacks including the murder of Marc Carson, a gay man.
Even though we have made advances on the marriage equality front, the greatest percentage of LGBT families lives in areas of the country with the least protections for their families. In a majority of states, including Michigan, individuals can still be fired and/or denied housing for being LGBT or perceived to be gay and the fate of the reintroduced Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) remains uncertain.
Studies show that more and more Americans have evolved on LGBT marriage and equality (some demographic models indicating that if put up for a vote, same-sex marriage would become legal in all but six states by 2020,) but it will take more than warm fuzzy feelings about us walking down the aisle and celebrity outings to stop the violence, stop the discrimination, stop the ignorance and put an end to homo and transphobia.
This year, as we begin celebrating our pride across the country, I am filled with not just the audacity of hope, but the audacity to believe change is finally going to come. I can feel it. It’s in the air, in our conversations. It’s within our grasp.
But if we want it, we have to embrace the good and the bad, the celebration and the outrage, the parties and the politics.
This June, this season of PRIDE, let’s be intentional. Let’s celebrate PRIDE with a purpose. A pride that goes beyond June’s 30 days. A pride, so compelling, so righteous, so just, so contagious, that our equality will no longer be denied.