As Pride celebrations take place in many cities across the globe, the LGBTQ+ community and our allies have so much to celebrate. We have made incredible progress based on the sheer bravery of those who have stood up to protest the overt and covert discrimination our community faces every single day.
The Pride events are held annually throughout the world toward the end of June to mark the Stonewall riots, which was an uprising and rebellion against a police raid of a well-known gay bar, in June 1969 in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of NYC. These acts led to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBTQ+ rights in the US and now all over the world. This year, 2019, marks the 50th anniversary of that uprising and a time of great reflection about where we’ve been, where we are today and what still remains to be done.
We are proud to fly the rainbow flag, a symbol of hope and a wonderful metaphor of the vast spectrum of differences we see in our community. The activist and creator of the flag, Gilbert Baker said, “We needed something to express our joy, our beauty, our power. And the rainbow did that.”
The National LGBTQ+ Wall of Honor and the Stonewall National Monument acknowledge pioneers, and heroes in the LGBTQ+ community. Those who have put their lives on the line by organizing, marching, protesting and taking action. They have changed our world and continue to change our world, so that many of us can get married to our partners, some of us can take vacations and not be in fear as we walk hand in hand on the beach, many can visit our loved ones in the hospital without someone stripping us of our rights and in many places we can dance at gay nightclubs with a carefree spirit.
Although we have seen progress, it has not been swift nor comprehensive enough. The movement that started in 1969 is far from complete and although some view the battle as almost won, others remark that the battleground has simply shifted. Many in our community continue to face and suffer from discrimination – in the workplace, housing markets, in public/social spaces in the US and around the globe. Acts of violence continue as we see bullying of LGBTQ+ youth, beatings and now massacres like the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando and the rampant murders of Trans people. We face hate crimes every single day – they diminish, demean and demoralize who we are. They cause intolerable pain and suffering. We will not feel our work is done, until we no longer hear about these horrific acts of violence.
This is your call to action. When our federal government cannot protect us, we need our allies to step up and act. Here are some things you can do to support the LGBTQ+ community today.
- 1. Support the Equality Act to make discrimination illegal – no federal statute explicitly addresses employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
- 2. Stop anti-LGBTQ+ legislation – these bills have the aim of allowing all businesses to deny services to LGBTQ+ individuals based on religious beliefs and freedom.
- 3. Help schools put an end to bullying of LGBTQ+ youth – no laws protect LGBTQ+ youth in their schools – even though we know that LGBTQ+ youth are four times more likely to commit suicide.
- 4. Shop at businesses that support LGBTQ+ equality and rights – look for businesses with inclusive policies for LGBTQ+ employees and customers.
- 5. Reach out to Congress members – if they support LGBTQ+ rights, thank them. If they do not, express your concerns.
- 6. Donate to businesses that fight for LGBTQ+ and human rights – search for the non-profit organizations that have a mission to protect LGBTQ+ rights.
- 7. Reach out to your LGBTQ+ colleagues, friends, family members and neighbors and tell them you have their back, tell them how much you care about them and their struggle and share with them how you will ally.
Let’s not take another 50+ years to make significant gains. Let’s shift from fear to hope, from hate to love and from tolerance to acceptance. Make it a personal commitment to step up your activism and join our fight.