The Yin Yang Of PRIDE: Much Is Given, Much Required

Hard to believe June is over, we're halfway through July and I have just one PRIDE – Hotter Than July – left to attend. We've raised our rainbow flags across the country, marched and partied like there's no tomorrow – no tomorrow when we go back to being second class citizens, separate and not equal.
We've had so much to celebrate as our Equality Train has left the station and is gaining momentum state-by-state, month by month.
It feels good, really good, especially for me this year. Instead of going from city to city wishing and hoping, I've just been happy, walking hand in hand with my lady love believing, BELIEVING, that yes it would happen in my lifetime.
Every PRIDE from Ferndale to Grand Rapids to Chicago this year, WE were celebrating the change that seems to finally be arriving.
And it wasn't just at PRIDES where you could sense the change. At restaurants, coffee shops, hotels and resorts in states where discriminatory laws had been overturned and even where they were still in place, you could sense the difference.
Visibility in the media, high profile coming outs, legal victories – just about every week there's been another reason to celebrate. But with the celebration, there has also been the nagging reminders that we still have a long way to go.
Even though we are winning in the courts, the sobering reality is that our rights are still under assault from a well-funded, politically savvy enemy with a powerful secret weapon in their arsenal – Us!
Us? Yes! You, me, LGBTQ, friends, families who party through PRIDE, wrap ourselves in progressive mantles, but through our apathy have allowed out-of-touch, xenophobic, trans/homophobic conserva-fools to take over state houses, governor seats, the congress and allowed the creation of a Supreme Court that has granted corporations the same rights as people, ala Citizens United, which tip the scales against equality.
While we have danced at our weddings, religious fundamentalists continue to flex their muscle attacking women's reproductive rights state by state. The recent Hobby Lobby Supreme Court ruling not only bolstered this attack on women but, by once again giving a corporation's religious views the same gravitas as an individual's constitutional rights for religious protection, it has now put an already tenuous ENDA in jeopardy.
The same bigots leading these attacks and spreading hatred "in the name of the father" are using their influence not only here, but internationally, exporting trans/homophobia overseas especially in Africa where death for LGBTQ individuals is the law.
But that's Africa and we have weddings to plan, right? Well, these hate-filled chickens are coming home to roost with even greater global implications by the election of Sam Kutesa, a supporter of Uganda's anti-gay law, as President of the U.N. General Assembly.
The U.N. is the most representative inter-governmental organization in the world today. Although it's effectiveness may be debatable, the United Nations' role in world affairs is irreplaceable by any other international or regional organization and now its president is a supporter of some of the most repressive anti-gay laws – laws written by leaders who were suckled at the breast of U.S. fundamentalists.
And what's to become of the thousands of Ugandans and others seeking asylum and immigration by coming to America? Will they find a country welcoming "the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free" or face immigration legislation that is far from welcoming, being influenced by a legislature we elected even if we cast our vote merely by staying home and not going to the polls.
Luke 12:48 says (yes, I googled it) "To whom much is given, much will be required." Growing up, I always thought that meant if something good happened to you, you passed it on, paid it forward. When my mom won the lottery, she always tithed a portion to church. When I get something new or have extra, I share the blessing. You probably have heard of similar practices. But I've been thinking about it differently these days.
We've received such good news of late, made such progress and seen changes that most of us never thought we would see in our lifetime – much has been given. But now is not the time to sit on our laurels, be complacent and do nothing – much is required.
In many states we can be married, time and the courts seem to be on our side, but we still can be discriminated against in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. ENDA remains in jeopardy even more so following the Hobby Lobby decision.
The clock is being turned backwards for women, taking us back to the days of "back-alley" abortions and unplanned/unwanted pregnancies with no protection, even in the case of rape and incest. Contraception and family planning is more than just a health issue for women, it's an economic issue. The earning capacity of women is already lower than that of most men; taking away and diminishing reproductive rights will only plunge more women and children into poverty.
Despite higher visibility, our transgender sisters and brothers are still targets for violence. Lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender youth and those perceived as LGBT are at an increased risk of being bullied.
And we don't live in a little gay bubble; we live in a world where the gap between the haves and the have nots continues to grow. We live in troubled urban areas, struggling rural areas.
We share an environment of dwindling resources and growing threats of pollution, global warming, etc.
Much is required from each of us whether LGBTQ or A.
At Motor City Pride, singer-songwriter Nikki Holland was sporting and selling a t-shirt. It said "UNTIL WE ARE =, BE > ignorance, sexism, lies, hate, racism, stereotypes, violence, prejudice, bigotry, hypocrisy, the self-righteous."
So now that the official PRIDE celebrations are just about over, be joyful for all that we have achieved and been given in these changing times, but remember much is required. Much is required from each of us to keep these freedoms, ensure that they will be extended to everyone and be there for future generations.
Your first task is GET REGISTERED TO VOTE. Vote in the August primaries and show up at the polls in November. Let's not give them the U.S. Senate or give the Congress to those who would take away rights, not expand them to all. And at the state level, let's vote in the change we want to see for ourselves, our families and our future.
Progress comes through change. Change can cause anxiety and fear. Fight back! Fight for equality! Fight for humanity by being greater than ignorance, sexism, lies, hate, racism, stereotypes, violence, prejudice, bigotry, hypocrisy and the self-righteous.
Remember to whom much is given, much will be required. Step up community!


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