Let’s all be better allies to each otherBottom Highlights, Commentary, Latest Issue Thursday, July 6th, 2017
Commentary: Guest Commentary
Two years ago we came together to celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision that finally made marriage equality the law of the land. It was a historical achievement for equality, but only a year later we again faced the horror of devastating hate, coming together to mourn the 49 lives that were lost in Pulse, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Last month, we gathered with thousands of community members for the San Diego Equality March to show our unity. Yet, it was just two weeks ago that faith and community leaders gathered to condemn the so-called “Gay Conversion Therapy” conference that shamefully came to America’s Finest City.
While we should take pride in having two out, progressive LGBTQ Councilmembers serving together on the San Diego City Council, we must remember that representation does not guarantee equality for our community. And as we celebrate Pride this year, let’s make sure we celebrate not only how far we’ve come, but how much we’re still ready to achieve.
Our representation did not come easy. Every day, I find pride in carrying on the legacy of LGBTQ representation in District Three. When I took office, it was Christine Kehoe who swore me in. When she was elected to the City Council, the national and local LGBTQ landscape was not something to be proud of, but it was a sign of what was possible if we kept pushing. She changed the course of our city by fighting for our most vulnerable and staying true to her progressive values. Those values were carried on by the commitment and dedication of now-Sen. Toni Atkins and now-Assemblymember Todd Gloria. Because of those who came before me, I have the honor of working for our community as an out gay man, as a progressive, as a proud father of a three-year-old daughter and as your neighbor, and I’m honored to continue building on what they proved possible.
Moving forward has never been an easy process, and it’s an understatement to say we’ve seen both good times and bad as a community. But we have always faced them together, as a community. The Pride celebration that we all know and love did not start as a celebration, but rather a declaration that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people would no longer be ignored, stigmatized or forced to live on the margins. Pride began to commemorate the Stonewall Uprising against repressive police raids. Then as now, we take our struggles and turn them into triumph. We celebrate what makes us different and find unity in the fact that our identities and experiences come in every color of the rainbow.
It is our embrace of the power and beauty of diversity that continues to make our fight for equality truly intersectional. Racial justice is an LGBTQ issue. Women’s rights are an LGBTQ issue. Immigration is an LGBTQ issue. Health care is an LGBTQ issue. Affordable housing is an LGBTQ issue. Equity is an LGBTQ issue. Because human rights belong to all human beings.
This year, the best way to celebrate your pride is to be civically engaged in your community. Make your voice heard. Stand up for the issues you believe in like we have through the decades that brought us this far. I feel that this sentiment rings strong throughout our community; it resonates through this year’s Pride parade’s theme, “Allied in Action, United for Justice.”
We can all be better allies to each other. And more than ever in our current political climate, we must be. Think of the transgender women of color, who face the highest rates of violence in our community. Think of those living with HIV or AIDS that may lose their health care. Think of gender nonconforming students who go to school afraid. Think of LGBTQ undocumented immigrants. Think of those in our community who deserve justice, who deserve for us to fight with and for them.
So while the White House goes dark during LGBTQ Pride Month, we as a community will be brighter, louder and prouder than ever. It is part of our history to be loud when others seek to silence us, and to be visible when we are ignored. We have celebrated together, mourned together and we will continue to fight for each other. It is essential for our future, and I’m proud to be with you.
Councilmember Ward represents San Diego’s Third Council District including the communities of Downtown, Little Italy, Bankers Hill, Mission Hills, Middletown, Hillcrest, University Heights, North Park, Normal Heights, Old Town, South Park and Golden Hill.
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