In this confusing time, after Orlando and before San Diego Pride, what do we stand for? As an LGBT community, what do we want to tell the world? Four things come to mind:
We will not go back, we will move forward into equality in all aspects of our lives.
We will not live in fear but in a growing security in ourselves and our community (in this predominantly heterosexual world).
We will not live in hate, but in love. As Aretha Franklin once sang: “Ain’t nobody gonna turn me around.”
We are proud of who we are and we will continue to be proud of who we grow to become.
Unfortunately, there has always been anti-LGBT violence. Way before Stonewall, we were being threatened and harmed. As someone who was born in 1953, I remember people throwing stones at me and calling me “fag” and “sissy” during the early 1960’s. I remember people throwing me shade when I died my hair in Middle School to look like David Bowie. I remember the copy of “Playgirl” that mysteriously disappeared from under my bed with not a word from my Mom (the likely thief). Silence is a form of violence too.
On the other hand, we’ve had a year of legal same-sex marriage: my upcoming book on gay marriage will soon be complete and sent to my publisher. Here are a few other recent events that gladden my heart:
The VFW elects its first openly gay Commander
The Department Of Defense lifts the ban on transgender troops in the U.S. Military
The NBA and WNBA marched in the New York Pride parade
Two women make history as the first trans candidates to win congressional primaries
London commuters slammed a homophobe abusing a gay couple on the Tube
However, there are still lots of challenges. Here are a few I’m aware of:
LGBT Americans are still earning less than straight people and are not saving enough for retirement. The long-held illusion of the wealthy LGBT community is finally biting the dust. Come on brothers and sisters, let’s take better care of ourselves. There are plenty of qualified LGBT financial folks out there that can help us prepare for our Golden Girl/Guy years. Let’s not blow all our money now and have nothing to live on later.
LGBT couples are spending more on weddings. Hmmm, I wonder: is this really the direction to go? According to a recent survey, the average LGBT wedding cost was, for men: $33,822 (up from $18,242 in 2015) and for women: $25,334 (up from $16,218 in 2015). I’m all for enjoying your marriage, but if we make less than straight people and aren’t saving enough for retirement, is spending more money on our weddings really the best way to take care of ourselves? Just asking…
Racism, ageism and misogyny are still all-too-present in our community. We remain a divided community, in so many ways. We are still afraid of people who don’t look like us, dress like us or act like us.
Many of us depend on alcohol and recreational drugs to feel good. What is it that we don’t want to feel: sad, angry, lonely, numb? These emotions are telling us that we have something to face and work through. Instead, we try to avoid them by repeatedly using substances that temporarily take away our pain. That pain comes back again-and-again, waiting for us to address it. When will we?
Every year, after Pride, I hear way too many people tell me stuff like: “Oh man, I had way too much booze/K/Tina/coke/X/sex.” or “I got so wasted that I don’t remember how I got home”. Is this something we’re proud of? Wouldn’t it be great to do Pride differently this year?
Frank Ocean is an artist who I really admire. This is from his recent Tumblr post:
“Many don’t see anything wrong with passing down the same old values that send thousands of kids into suicidal depression each year. So we say pride and we express love for who and what we are. Because who else will in earnest? I daydream on the idea that maybe all this barbarism and all these transgressions against ourselves is an equal and opposite reaction to something better happening in this world, some great swelling wave of openness and wakefulness out here.”