June is Pride Month

It is wonderful to see the celebration of being. With a long history of violence, marginalization, and oppression, the LGBTQ+ community has earned its right to march in the streets for celebration. Nothing is more affirming than seeing allies in the most unlikely place “come out” publicly to support the LGBTQ+ community. No doubt the news of Cody Barlow, a straight man from the small town of Hulbert, Oklahoma who decided to show his support for pride by decorating his truck put a smile on your face. And one wonders if he was subjected to any grief for his outspoken support of the LGBTQ+ community.

There is still a lot of work to be done. This is evidenced by recent news of violence perpetrated on the LGBTQ+ community. Murders of black transgender women in Dallas have put a community on edge. The killings of two gay men and a transgender woman in Detroit and a gay man outside Atlanta have highlighted alarming increases in attacks against LGBTQ people. In January 2018, Blaze Bernstein, an openly gay Jewish college student, was stabbed more than 20 times by an avowed neo-Nazi and member of the Atomwaffen Division. In March 2018, Rio Carson was fatally shot as he left a nightclub in Kansas City, Missouri. That same month, Jared Jacobs was killed after a man drove a car at high speed into a gay couple. Amia Tyrae, a black transgender woman, was found dead in a motel room in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with multiple gunshot wounds.

If anyone asks why there needs to be a Pride parade, just point them here or to any site documenting the history of violence against LGBT people in the United States. There is a need (and tremendous benefit) for visibility and awareness. While Pride celebrations are often advertised as a party that promotes love and acceptance for everyone, it is also a time to reflect on LGBTQ history. It is a reaction to a community being shunned and ostracized for years. It is time to celebrate being alive, and to illustrate the continuing need to remind people that the struggle remains.

Josh Matacotta