Pride Without Exception

by Kelley Robinson

Pride season is here, y’all! There is no doubt that the month of June is about centering our defiant joy. It’s about marching and dancing and singing in the streets — despite those who are trying to silence us. It’s about celebrating all of the beautiful identities that make our movement stronger. It’s about visibility. It’s about telling the stories — loud and proud — of the battles we are still fighting today for our LGBTQ+ community.

We have so much more work to do before we can truly celebrate pride without exception.

Listen, I don’t need to tell you that this is a critical moment for our country — and a critical moment for our LGBTQ+ community.

This is a moment filled with abundant (and I mean abundant) challenges, but also with unparalleled opportunities.

The Push and Pull of Progress

On one hand, LGBTQ+ workers have better pay, better benefits and clearer pathways to promotion than ever before. Marriage equality has been codified into federal law. The LGBTQ+ community is one of the fastest-growing constituencies in the country. Voter support for the LGBTQ+ community is as high as it’s ever been. And consumer support for businesses that support LGBTQ+ rights is just as high.

But on the other hand, there have been over 520 state bills introduced that attack the LGBTQ+ community, and over 220 of those target the trans community. Trans people are twice as likely to be unemployed — and those who are working face a big wage gap. And far too many powerful voices are staying silent when we need them most. .

Just look at what’s playing out in Texas and Tennessee and Florida. These states are banning educators from talking about LGBTQ+ issues and teaching Black history, and are banning gender-affirming care and abortion care. These same states do nothing to ensure the freedom of children to be safe from gun violence, and do nothing to protect the freedom of democracy when Black and trans voices like The Tennessee Three, Zooey Zepher and Mauree Turner are silenced in state legislatures.

The Good News

The good news is that for every Florida, there’s a Michigan, which became the 22nd state to sign LGBTQ+ non-discrimination protections into law.

The good news is that for every Texas, there’s a Pennsylvania, where because of our partnership and work and advocacy, they are on the cusp of becoming the 23rd state to put LGBTQ+ non-discrimination protections on the books.

And for every Tennessee, there’s a Minnesota, where they just banned so-called “conversion therapy.”

We have to stand up for our people — without exception. We have to stand firmly and unwavering with our values. Not just during Pride month. Not just with a rainbow version of the company logo. We need our leaders to say the right thing — and do the right thing.

Lives are literally on the line. I meet people every day who remind me of that. But I also see their strength. The drag performers who are being targeted by Proud Boys and take the stage proudly anyway.

The trans women harassed on their way to work or walking their dogs who are blazing new paths in their communities.

The trans children whose access to critical healthcare has been cut but who are organizing acts of resistance at their schools and meeting with legislators in the statehouse.

Too many people — trans people, Black and Brown people, people living with HIV & AIDS, people being denied basic care — are at war at home and still they rise up and fight back.

But we need allies. We need those in positions of power to speak out. We need non-LGBTQ people to say enough is enough. We saw it with marriage equality.
We know what you can do. We know what we can do.

We Need You

Twenty years ago, extremists were targeting gay and lesbian people and our freedom to marry. But when Americans across all walks of life used their platforms to boost visibility of same-sex couples, to humanize these couples, it helped transform hearts and minds across our country.

We need you to do the same today.
The truth is, there is more all of us can do.

As individuals, you can get active in our neighborhood. The schools you pass, the houses of worship where you pray, the community centers you frequent could use your support. Talk to your neighbors — the best way to combat misinformation is for trusted messengers like you to disseminate actual information.

For leaders and businesses, you can make sure you practice allyship, not just perform it.

Help make sure Pride is about more than rainbow products, it’s about actual progress by both celebrating our community and speaking out against hate-filled legislation in states.

Help make sure everyone knows someone who is trans, by lifting up trans employees and leaders, and standing with them when the water gets hot.

Engage your clients and constituents in this work — show them what it means to lead on LGBTQ+ rights.

A Breakthrough

Again, make no mistake — this is a moment of crisis for our community and our country. But with crisis always comes reckoning. And with reckoning comes the opportunity for bold and transformative change.

Change isn’t a hope, a wish or a prayer. Change is action.
Together, we will get to a world where we are free and liberated without exception — without anyone left behind.

Let’s get to work, y’all.

Celebrate Pride With Us: Without Exception

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