Pride is insistence in the face of intense resistance

Pride is not a month. Pride is the insistence that the LGBTQ+ community deserves real respect and substantive access to the rights that we all expect to enjoy.

The United States of America is still a place where the simple act of outwardly expressing who you are inside can be, and has been, a death sentence—where choosing not to hide who you love can lead to a violent response. It is for that reason that Pride is, and has to be, every day of our lives.

I was raised by two moms, out lesbians, who have been unashamed of who they are for as long as I’ve known them. They taught me that our silence will not protect us (thank you Audre Lorde).

In fact, if you are shamed or scared into silence, it won’t just hurt you. It will harm everyone who may otherwise have relied on your bravery and used your Pride as an example to follow.

I saw firsthand how my mothers’ Pride inspired others who were able to find the strength to come out and live authentic lives. I also saw how their Pride inspired people to grow from bigotry, fear, and rejection—beyond tolerance—to acceptance, respect, and love. In that way, Pride is a service to our community, opening people’s eyes and making the world safer and more understanding.

But despite the service of my parents (both as activists and as people just living their lives in the open), and all of the brave humans who put themselves on the line in riots, parades, advocacy campaigns, and legal battles, there is still a coordinated attack on the humanity of the LGBTQ+ community.

Those who oppose full equality and respect are passing laws across the country to force LGBTQ+ children into closets, endanger their lives, and punish the people who would seek to support and care for them.

They will not stop there. All of our rights are intertwined, which means any one person’s fight for justice is everyone’s fight. The U.S. Supreme Court, a body we’ve entrusted with the power to protect our rights, is instead working right now to deny our right to an abortion. In itself that is enough for rage and riot, but they will not stop there.

Along with abortion they would take our rights to privacy and bodily autonomy. After all, what claim to “settled law” status can Lawrence v. Texas or Obergefell v. Hodges have if Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood fall?

The disingenuous would try to convince you that we are not all put at risk; but as Martin Luther King Jr. taught us, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. And this persistent coalition of bigots, misogynists, and theocrats have made their intentions clear for decades.

During this Pride Month, and every month after, I hope that you remember that silence isn’t a shield, it only steals the strength of community and encourages greater trespass.

Show up as who you are and speak out for what you believe. Join us who fight for freedom and equality. They will not stop here, until we stop them.

Kahlil Seren

The Honorable Kahlil Seren is the first elected mayor of Cleveland Heights.

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Volume 15, Issue 6, Posted 2:49 PM, 05.27.2022