So, as many of you know June 1st starts Pride Month. Excited? Yeah, me too. I always love this month… not only is it my birth month, but I get to celebrate a whole 30 days of LGBT pride!
Now, it’s no secret that being different right now, ANYTHING different, is tough. Right now with our current administration emboldening bigots to speak more loudly than ever, I want to talk frankly about something. Attending Pride parades and events are wonderful, but what about making this a month not only to celebrate, but to mobilize and get active?
Much like abortion 40+ years ago, we won our right to marry through an act of the Supreme Court. Sadly, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard since then “Why are you worried about losing your right to marry? SCOTUS ruled on it, that’s permanent! Stop fretting!” Yes, in theory, but let’s take a closer look. Here’s my biggest argument against that reasoning. I will use abortion as an example. Roe v. Wade ruled that women should have unrestricted access to abortion. Women everywhere cheered and thought their rights were secured for all time. However, that wasn’t the case at all. Through various laws on local and state levels, our reproductive rights have slowly been eroded to the point where in some places, an abortion is nearly impossible to be had without driving for hours, crossing state lines, and various other things that impede and put undue burden on a woman seeking to exercise her right to reproductive freedom. In addition, because a very small part of their services include abortions, Planned Parenthood has been defunded and many have closed, again putting undue burden on women who need other services like cancer screenings, affordable birth control and other services which have nothing to do with abortions. It has taken 40 years, but Roe v. Wade has been eroded to the point where we can hardly recognize it at all.
In a similar fashion, using similar tactics, the attacks on our marriage rights are already under threat of erosion. Since the 2013 decision in the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, we have seen a smattering of bills introduced in nearly all 50 states which would damage LGBT+ rights under the guise of “religious liberty”. Many of these bills have been passed into law. Thankfully, they have yet to damage marital rights but they have again emboldened the folks railing against marriage to go further with these laws.
We have also seen laws limiting the rights of our trans brothers and sisters, as well as silly “religious liberty” laws dictating who bakers must make cakes for, and who florists can turn away. These may seem minor. In truth, I have thought often about those bakers, florists and others who provide services for weddings, whether gay or straight. For my wedding (which happened in 2013, after a whopping 13 years of being with my wife, but continuing to be legal strangers) I pondered what I would do if someone turned me away for a cake or flowers or venue and came to the conclusion that rather than forcing someone to make something they don’t agree with, I’d rather go and support an LGBT+ friendly business that supported my marriage and made me feel valued as a consumer. But that’s just my two cents on the matter. But I digress.
My point is, these laws may seem small and insignificant, but they are that slippery slope. They are the beginning of the same methods we’ve seen from anti-abortion folks. So what can we do in honor of Pride month to help the cause and support the community? Here’s my list… feel free to add in comments if you think of some I didn’t.
- Support LGBT+ owned and ally owned businesses in your area and online. This may be harder than it looks, because in many areas businesses can’t or don’t chose to be openly loud about who they do and don’t support. However, it is worth the effort to do things such as get a copy of your local Pink Pages, seek out business booths at Pride celebrations and take their cards home. Patronize them during the rest of the year.
- If you do need to shop at chains or go with a corporate owned business, consider using very outspoken LGBT+ friendly business like Target and Starbucks. Both have been extremely vocal in their support of our community, including Target’s absolutely awesome line of Pride related clothes, housewears and other items which support bi, trans and gay folks. If you’re not sure where to go, start with the Human Rights Campaign. They have a wonderful app that will show you what businesses to patronize and what to avoid.
- Check on the folks in your community. Don’t forget, given the ever present hatred towards our community, many of our brothers and sisters have been left feeling depressed, isolated and hopeless. Suicide is an issue in our community, particularly with the younger folks. If you know an LGBT+ person who’s struggling, let them know someone cares. Let them know that someone is there and understands that they are struggling. Reach out and let them know someone loves them.
- Get or stay political! I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been told “I’m not very political,” or “I stay out of politics.” I always think “Gosh, what a luxury to be able to sit back and refrain from being political!” For those of us in the community, we don’t have that luxury. We have to stay active and informed if we don’t want to lose our rights. Even if you’re not overly political, that’s ok! As a member of the community or an advocate for us, there are always things to be done even from the comfort of your own home. Write letters, make phone calls. Contact your representatives and let them know you feel strongly about LGBT+ issues. If you live in a more conservative area, rally your lawmakers, dig in and fight against anti-LGBT legislation. You don’t have to attend rallies or do anything out of your comfort zone to be political. Just show up for us and our cause and make your voice heard SOMEHOW.
- Donate or volunteer! There are many wonderful organisations that support the LGBT+ community. They are always in need of money, time and energy. Consider a financial or time commitment to organisations like the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal and the ACLU. Volunteer or give money to LGBT+ friendly legislators or those who are running for office. If you don’t have money to spare, I understand! These are tough times and I’d be a hell of a hypocrite if I looked down on anyone for not having money to spare. But if you can manage, time is also a very valuable commodity.
I hope that if you support our community, you will really come out and SUPPORT us. Have a happy Pride month. Let it be a month filled with activism, visibility and most of all LOVE. Share the love, be the love.