Image: Gay Pride March, with rainbow flags. Photo by naeimasgary/pixabay.
June has become known in the US as LGBTQ Pride Month. For the last eight years, the White House has acknowledged it as such, and made a greeting to LGBTQ Americans. This year there is silence.
Last year the most vulnerable among us had access to health care through the Affordable Care Act. This year, the ACA is under attack from both the legislative and executive branches of government.
Last year our government spoke up for LGBTQ rights – human rights – abroad. This year there is a gay genocide in Chechnya, and Washington is utterly silent.
The battles we were still fighting last year are still raging. Kris Hayashi of the the Transgender Law Center reported on May 10, 2017:
The news this weekend from New York that another transgender woman, Brenda Bostick, has died after being viciously assaulted is a bleak reminder of the crisis of violence against transgender people… That crisis, fueled by hateful rhetoric and public policy, has for too long gone unseen and unacknowledged.” Brenda Bostick was the 10th transgender woman of color – and 9th Black transgender woman – murdered in 2017 that we know of.
The Department of Education announced on Feb 27 that it would no longer enforce Title IX to protect transgender students equally in all school facilities, including restrooms, according to the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
I could go on and on – if there’s a statistic or situation you think readers should know, I hope you’ll add it in the Comments.
But this is not a year to panic, or to hide our heads in the sand.
This is a year for LGBTQ people and straight allies to mobilize whatever privilege we have in defense of human rights and in resistance to the Trump Administration. Each of us have different degrees and kinds of privilege or talents, be it economic privilege, racial privilege, health privilege, gender privilege, ability privilege, a talent for written or other expression, or other things we can bring to the cause.
This year, celebrate Pride with ACTIONS:
- IDENTIFY YOUR GIFTS – Ask yourself, what talents or privilege do I have to offer? Do I have disposable income? Am I physically able to show up at rallies? Am I good at mobilizing people or at using social media? Does my race allow me to go or do or say things that would be much riskier for a person of color? How can I mobilize my privilege and talents in the service of others?
- DONATE – If you are able, support the organizations that defend us by sending a donation. Public interest law firms such as the Transgender Law Center, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Lambda Legal are on the front lines in the courts, currently our sole defense against a conservative Congress and a mean-spirited administration. Support organizations that serve vulnerable populations as well.
- PESTER ELECTED OFFICIALS – Email, tweet, write, and call your elected officials about LGBTQ issues, such as America’s refusal to issue US visas to Chechen men fleeing persecution. Keep an eye on state and local news for opportunities to speak out to the elected officials who work for you about local issues of discrimination.
- SHOW UP to marches and peaceful demonstrations if you are able.
- BOOST THE SIGNAL of LGBTQ voices and organizations in social media. Use your social media to spread legitimate information (consider your sources!) and to Share, Retweet, and otherwise add to the messages of LGBTQ organizations.
- REACH OUT to one another in kindness in these difficult times. The news is stressful, the unfriendly voices we hear in public spaces are painful, and all of it is downright scary. The world is mean enough right now – let’s practice the Jewish value of chesed, kindness in dealing with other LGBTQ folks.
- SHARE PRIVILEGE with others. Team up to make things happen. For instance, I’m disabled and marches, etc, are difficult for me on my scooter. I appreciate it when family and friends have stayed beside me, so that I feel less vulnerable. Do you know someone who could SHOW UP if only they had a little friendly support? Do you know an LGBTQ activist who could use a word of support, a meal, a RT?
Judaism is unequivocal on the necessity of speaking up when something is wrong. Leviticus 19 commands that we not stand by while another human being bleeds. Hillel speaks of the necessity of speaking up for ourselves and for others:
If I am not for myself, who is for me? When I am for myself, what am I? If not now, when? – Pirkei Avot 1:14
This Pride month, let us be for ourselves and for one another. Now.