I have been thinking a lot about pride today. I don’t mean the deep sense of satisfaction that you get when you’ve done a good job. This isn’t about the “cometh before the fall” type of pride. I mean the pride that indicates an awareness and consciousness about one’s own dignity. As a gay man, it also means the “capital P” Pride as well.
“Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Month (LGBT Pride month) is celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan.” (Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/lgbt-pride-month/about/) In the early hours of June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn was raided and the Gay Rights Movement was born. Raids weren’t unusual but the resistance by the crowd, the bar staff, the go go dancers, and the drag queens certainly was. Things had reached a tipping point that night and the crowd said, finally, enough is enough.
These events led to the first gay pride parades in the United States and in many other countries. These events recognize the impact that LGBT people have had in the world.
These celebrations are so much more than that, though. For me, this is a place where our wide and often divided community can come together. It’s a place where young people can be their true and authentic selves, sometimes for the very first time. It is a place where the older generation can be seen and honored for the work they have done to bring us to where we are.
And that place isn’t perfect.
Court decisions have made it ok to discriminate base don religion. A new Trump-era SCOTUS pick could mean that marriage equality—a sign that many have taken to mean that our fight was coming to an end—is under threat. The fear that held so many people in its grip is slowly tightening once again.
I want to stay positive. I want to believe that fair-minded people will come out ahead but it is becoming increasingly more difficult. An apocalyptic outcome for LGBT Americans seems like more and more of a reality. This possibility isn’t a new thing. This community has lived with this threat for decades.
This is a wake-up call, a call-to-action.
In November, all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate will be contested. Estimates show that 58% of eligible voters went to the polls during the 2016 Presidential Election. Regan, Michael D. “What does voter turnout tell us about the 2016 election?”. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/voter-turnout-2016-elections) While this figure nearly breaks even with 2012 turnout, it still means that 42% simply did not vote.
Let that sink in for just a moment.
This is the opportunity. This is why you will hear people and groups chanting the same thing that they’ve chanted for years: VOTE! VOTE VOTE! This time, the chant has to be heard loud and clear. We have to recognize that the fight is far from over. We have to recognize that the fight may never be over.
We are a gentle, angry people and we are singing for our lives.
We are a justice seeking people and we are singing for our lives.
We are young and old together and we are singing for our lives.
We are a land of many colors and we are singing for our lives.
We are gay and straight together and we are singing for our lives.
We are a gentle, loving people and we are singing for our lives.
-Singing for Our Lives, Holly Near
Peaceful protest through song has been around for years, but it’s just not enough anymore. We can’t just share articles online. We can’t just like the posts of others who are angry and hurt and afraid. We have to say again, that enough is enough. We have to show up.
We have to embrace our own dignity and that of every human being.
We have to be proud.