June is known for a lot of things. In this country, without a doubt, the most popular are the first day of summer, Juneteenth and Pride month. While summer is a natural occurrence, the latter two are indicative of civil rights for Blacks and those in the LGBTQ+ community.
Juneteenth marks the final emancipation of slaves in Texas following the Civil War on June 19, 1865. Pride lands in June to celebrate the anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City on June 28, 1969, after police raided the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street seeking those patronizing the popular gay bar. While it wasn’t officially the beginning of the gay rights movement, it was a considerable “battle” in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights on an organized basis.
Some 54 years later, the LGBTQ+ community is still fighting for some basic rights as the battle has now become that pitting some states versus the federal government. But what is so refreshing is how a majority of the country is winning the war against ignorance and hatred by embracing their “gayness,” coming out in droves, and celebrating the right to be like anyone else.
Consider Riverdale Pride, which was founded by Laura Levine-Pinedo and Mike Gabert. In only its second year, the Pride event in the North Riverdale business district drew more than 400 people.
Many were dressed in colorful outfits reflecting the Pride rainbow. There were also acrobatics, children activities, Zumba classes and music.
Meanwhile, certain Southern states like Florida and Texas are passing “anti-gay” laws to criminalize drag queens reading to children, LGBTQ+ people being cared for at hospitals, teaching about LGBTQ+ in schools, and even fighting with “woke” companies like The Walt Disney Co., over its theme parks in Orlando.
Just as it has taken more than a century for Blacks to earn basic rights — such as being able to use integrated public bathrooms, voting, and choose their own seats on a public bus — the LGBTQ+ community faces similar discrimination. And just as Blacks have been treated like sub-humans by being sent to prison or even killed for being what they are, so too have LGBTQ+ people.
For the Black community, it took constitutional amendments not to be considered slaves, be considered naturalized Americans, and given the right to vote. The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment was written so that it covers African Americans and all others seeking such protection.
To protect the gay community, President Biden has called on Congress to pass the Equality Act that would incorporate existing protections against discrimination into the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He also calls those responsible for discriminatory acts against the LGBTQ+ community “hysterical” and “prejudiced.”
Even it is passed and signed by the president, it probably won’t initially stop the violence and hatred against these Americans. But it would be a big first step in changing the attitudes toward fellow Americans who generally want the same things in life their provocateurs want: happiness.
Earlier in his presidency, Biden signed a historic executive order designed to protect the LGBTQ+ community. It calls for:
• Addressing discriminatory legislative attacks against LGBTQ+ children and families by directing key agencies to protect families and children.
• Preventing so-called “conversion therapy” with a historic initiative to protect children from the harmful practice.
• Safeguarding health care, and programs designed to prevent youth suicide.
• Supporting LGBTQ+ children and families by launching a new initiative to protect foster youth, prevent homelessness, and improve access to federal programs.
• Taking new, additional steps to advance LGBTQ+ equality.
The fight for LGBTQ+ rights has been a long one. But it’s not done yet. A lot more has to happen.
While all the laws and executive orders are good for the movement, it still comes down to defeating ignorance and hatred. The best way to do that is to continue holding the parades and Pride month celebrations.
And we’re not just talking about holding them in so-called blue states, but throughout the country.