I’ll never forget walking around general conference and meeting a white-haired elderly woman. She looked at me and said, “I’ve been fighting for this since I was your age.“ Her entire lifetime was spent seeking to make the church a safe space not just for herself, but for me and future generations who would hope to call this church our home. I can be who I am today because of those brave souls who came before and forged this path for me. I hope my generation will continue to tread the path of justice as boldly and eloquently as those before us.
I’m sure you’ve seen quite a bit of this in the news recently, but 50 years ago on this weekend a riot broke out at the Stonewall Inn in NYC. Apparently, some police would enter gay bars and arrest or beat those who had gathered. On June 12, 2016 a 29-year-old walked into a gay nightclub in Orlando called Pulse, and murdered 49 people and injured 53 others.
Many people wonder why we need Pride; why must we celebrate the LGBTQ+ community so loudly? In Boston, a group has received approval to host a straight pride. They don’t understand why one group should celebrate who they are.
Pride matters for several reasons, the first of which being that it continues to raise visibility; it reminds the world that we have a right to exist. Straight folks typically don’t need to do that. Growing up in a small town, I didn’t know that being gay existed. I thought who I was was just a deviancy from the norm—something which had to be corrected because it couldn’t possibly exist.
Pride matters because it’s a reminder not only of how far we have come, but a challenge to press on further toward full equality for the entire LGBTQ+ community. Same-sex couples are still turned away from churches and bakeries, trans women of color are still shot dead in the streets, sex ed in public schools primarily teaches heterosexual practices which leaves queer children ill-prepared.
Pride matters for me, and I hope it matters for you. One accepting adult can save a queer kid’s life. LGBTQ+ youth are four times more likely to commit suicide than their straight peers. WE can be safe spaces. WE can save lives. WE can all share pride in the LGBTQ+ community. May it be so.