The story of LGBT Pride is one of silence to celebration. There was a time when homosexuality was “the love that dare not speak its name” and the term “transgender” was unknown.
There was a time when we looked forward to Gay Pride Day, then Lesbian & Gay Pride weekend, then Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride week and, in many places today, a whole month of activity.
While that month might be at a different time of year – February in Mumbai for example – chances are that June is the month when your consciousness and maybe that of your co-workers, friends and family (as well as your schedule) will fill up with rainbow abundance. And, fill up and then, fill up some more.
At a recent Pride-Month event at San Francisco City Hall, a community activist privately commiserated with me, lamenting the schedule conflicts and sheer exhaustion of the season. Yes, we’re here, were queer and we’re 24/7 – in June at any rate.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s vitally important to have a month of special celebration, marking (for many) the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots of 1969, but as the movement for LGBT civil rights is being embraced in many places as never before, now is the time to spread the love throughout the year.
Being LGBT isn’t something we get to do and others get to notice in June alone. Too often we fold our tents (quite literally) and subside into acquiescence or, for some, silence. In spite of all the progress we have made and according to the annual Harris/Out & Equal Workplace Poll, 53% of US adults are still in the closet in the workplace. In most other countries that percentage plummets still further and even in the US only 14% of bisexuals are out at work. That has to change and, as Harvey Milk inspired us to do, we must come out, come out wherever we are.
Of course, everyone’s situation will be different and many of us choose to come out in stages to family, friends and work colleagues. In other parts of the world where even a single day of gay pride is not just an aspiration, but a criminal offense, there are even greater challenges.
Today, for me, I get to be an ally: an ally to my bisexual and transgender sisters and brothers, my lesbian sisters, my gay brothers and to other oppressed minorities, both at home and abroad. I also get to be an ally to our straight allies: it costs nothing to say “thank you” and be an ally to them in whatever struggle they may be facing.
When we do that, we do more than spread the love: we inculcate the awareness that being gay, lesbian, bisexual and/or transgender is not something to be compartmentalized or confined to a few glorious weeks in June. It is a love without borders and that, has got to be a good thing.
Teddy has served as Executive Director of LGBT Pride in London (1991-1997) and San Francisco (1997-2005), President of Interpride (1997-2000) and co-founded the European Pride Organisers Association in 1993. He currently serves as Director of Institutional Partnerships at Out & Equal.