Pride - Recognition of LGBTQ Persons
I was asked over the Pride weekend, why they should get a day, or outrageously, a month to be recognized? “We don’t have a day? Where’s the white people’s day? Why should they get more rights than we have?”
This conversation was spurred by my t-shirt, “Love is Love,” with its fashionable rainbow flower design. After my initial shock over the question, believing that everyone understood or at least had an idea as to why the LGBTQ+ community has a day of recognition, I began my answer – it went something like this:
Pride is a weekend where the LGBTQ community celebrates how far it has come and is used as a platform to bring recognition to their fight to be heard and seen and respected. And the month of June has been dedicated to them for the purpose of showing support and bringing awareness.
Some fifty years ago, in a place called Stonewall in New York City, there were six days of rioting between people in the LGBTQ community and the authorities over the barbaric mistreatment and stigma surrounding the LGBTQ community. It was through this riot that a movement began across the United States that helped enable more LGBTQ persons to come out and be their authentic selves. It was also with this movement that several years later, twenty to be exact, that my little community recognized the need to support our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community and have their own Pride celebration.
White people don’t have a specific day because, well, quite frankly, every day is white people day. Whites are not oppressed, whites are not discriminated against and whites not only have equality they generally make the rules that have established the same. To be white in America is to be the top of the heap; why then would we need a day?
In our state and in our Human Rights Act, there is no language that supports, protects or insists equality and anti-discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community. In our state it is legal to fire a gay person, discriminate against a transgender person through hiring practices, evict a person based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, and refuse services to any LGBTQ person – all without fear of legal prosecution. In other words, in our state, a person can be kicked out of their home, terminated from their employment, and denied goods and services because they are LGBTQ.
The “Add the Words” campaign that strives to add, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity to our Human Rights Act would ensure that persons who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer, would have equality and not be discriminated against when it came to where they worked, where they lived and the services they required. They would actually be looked upon as the rest of us; as humans with basic and equal rights.
The Pride celebration and the month of recognition is designed to bring light to the still suffering, still marginalized, still outcast community of people and to expose the atrocities they endure on a regular basis. Most people assume that everyone has the same rights and that the LGBTQ community is looking for additional rights or special treatment. No – completely incorrect. In my state, the inclusion of the words Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity would simply make this community the same as the rest of us; nothing additional, nothing special, the same.
Without change to our existing governance, LGBTQ persons are oppressed and marginalized, unprotected, harassed, mistreated and discriminated against – and it’s okay.
Throughout our history it has taken allies to assist the marginalized obtain equal and non-discrimination rights: whites helped free slaves and abolish slavery in the 1800’s but it took a huge movement of whites walking beside blacks to finally give them a right to vote in 1965 and do away with the Jim Crowe laws of segregation.
It was not until the male allies of the suffragettes came alongside them and insisted change, that women were allowed to vote in 1920. With the assistance of white men, Native Americans were finally given back their citizenship in the country they had never left, had lived in their entire lives and were indigenous to, in 1924.
If it were not for the allies of the United States, Brittan, France and others, Nazi Germany may well have successfully carried out its plans to eradicate Jews from their stronghold occupancies.
And now it’s time for the allies to stand by, speak out for and support the LGBTQ community. They are, after all, our brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, friends, co-workers and children.
If you are wondering if my conversation worked, did this person have a change of heart? I can’t say there was a full on life-altering moment for them, but I can say they softened, they admitted not knowing any of this and agreed that yes, everyone deserves equal and fair treatment.
If we can all help open one mind, quell one person’s aggression and cause them to be less defensive and better educated, more enlightened to the truths of this marginalized community, then we have made an effective change in the right direction. For me, I took this interaction as a win.