June is Gay Pride month the world over. This year’s Pride season is especially remarkable because it’s the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the event that kicked off the gay pride movement.
In June of 1969, a group of patrons at the Stonewall Inn, a popular New York City gay bar, fought back against police who had been staging frequent raids of gay clubs. The group quickly became a mob of hundreds, and the Stonewall riots continued for several days. The events made gays and lesbians front-page news and “Stonewall” is credited as the official start of the gay-rights movement.
Since Stonewall, decades have passed and proclamations have been signed, yet lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer people still face numerous challenges. So, for visibility and activism, for our safety and our rights, we loudly and proudly celebrate LGBTQ Pride.
We fought for and won the right to legally marry and against the military’s discriminatory and cruel Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell regulation. Still, I’ve heard straight people ask, “Why do they have to tell? I’ve never walked up to anyone and said, ‘Hello, I’m heterosexual.’”
Here’s what it would be like to hide your straight orientation: Don’t put any photos of you and your love or your kids on your work desk. People will surely ask who the person is or about your family. Did you meet someone new or have a fun date? Keep it to yourself. It’s risky to share details. Company party? Go alone. If you do bring your spouse or significant other, introduce them to co-workers as your “friend” and don’t touch them. Remember, you could lose your job. If you’re asked what you did over the weekend, you can’t say “we” went because people want to know who “we” is. To be safe, always speak just of yourself, as if you do everything alone. In fact, never use “we” when you tell any stories. People are already suspicious of you because you never talk about your life. Because you can’t.
Could you do it? How would you feel if your job, relationships, access to healthcare and even mundane services like ordering a cake were at risk?
I ask you, on behalf of the LGBTQ community, to stick up for us in interactions with others and at the ballot box. Our happiness, safety, livelihoods, and our very lives depend on you.
Diane Fellows Morazan