Let’s remember our entire communityBottom Highlights Thursday, July 17th, 2014
Commentary: Guest Commentary
The experience of LGBT Pride is, for many, inextricably intertwined with “coming out.” Whether coming out as transgender, coming out as gay, lesbian or bi, or coming out as HIV positive –“coming out” is a process of making a statement about our full, authentic selves. Pride month is an opportunity to celebrate that freedom and to join a community committed to freedom.
In California, and increasingly other states, we have a great deal to celebrate.
San Diego’s own Toni G. Atkins is speaker of the California Assembly – the first out lesbian and only the third woman to serve in the second most powerful office in the state. The California Legislative LGBT caucus, of which San Diego’s former State Sen. Chris Kehoe is a founding member, is continually growing in size and influence. San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria served very successfully as our first out gay interim mayor, just a few years after Toni Atkins served very successfully as our first out lesbian interim mayor.
To name but a few other recent victories: in California we can once again legally marry; we can be legally designated as parents of our children; LGBT youth have the right to attend school without persecution; and youth are legally protected from so-called “reparative therapy.”
And we are fortunate to now enjoy many non-LGBT allies who fight on our behalf and stand with us when it counts.
And while we celebrate all of the progress, our fight for equality, for dignity and for fair treatment for all continues. Success for some of us is not enough. Our fight is for all of us.
The 2012 words of Michelle Obama remind us that with our successes come also our obligations to remember our entire community: “[W]hen you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.”
We will hold the door open for all of us. This is a fight for our entire community and we will leave no one behind.
Our transgender brothers and sisters have made great progress, but they still face workplace persecution, employment struggles, housing struggles, justice system harassment and outright bigotry. They are all too often still fighting for the right to simply exist.
Our HIV positive brothers and sisters continue to too often live in a world of imposed shame and silence, where even discussions of HIV stigmatize.
Our communities of color still carry the burdens of inequality. While in some places we may seem to be moving beyond issues of sexual orientation, we are not making similar progress on issues of race, class and immigration status. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of a day when his children “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” But too often it is still the color of our skin that determines too much of our circumstance.
Even as we celebrate the victories, we remember we are one in the struggle. Every member of this community counts. As we move forward we must bring our entire community forward and lift every member with us.
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