Support Your LGBT+ Neighbors This Pride Month and Always

I love Pride Month, and I know many of my fellow LGBT+ community members do, too. June is a time for celebration, love, advocacy, togetherness, and empowerment. While there is so much joy to be had during Pride, there’s one reason why we have Pride that I imagine we all wish wasn’t necessary.

It’s easy to write Pride off as LGBT+ folks just being loud about their identity. It is appreciated by some and loathed by others for that. Without understanding the past and present struggles, folks may not realize that Pride was created out of a necessity to fight against discrimination and remain bravely visible. Historically, our community has been pushed into the margins by the very forces of society that should have granted us equal rights and treatment. We had to fight that, and our LGBT+ elders experienced the worst of this firsthand. To this day, we still face discrimination, hate crimes, and unequal treatment under the law. Because of this, Pride is not just a celebration. It is a prism of color shining out against the shadows of hate. 

We need those of you who are not part of the community to stand with us now more than ever. Most people outside the LGBT+ community are neutral and well-meaning but not very involved. We need more than your neutrality and well-meaning support. We need you to actively speak up and take action when our community is under attack.

It is a vocal and extreme minority that works against us. These extremists seek to disrupt our peaceful celebrations while armed to the teeth, create and push harmful legislation against us, and spread abhorrent lies about our community that lead to marginalization and hate crimes against us. I know for certain that the most vile rhetoric and harmful legislation in Idaho has come from extremists on the right. We just saw, in Northern Idaho, a drag queen win a defamation case against an extremist who edited footage and spread lies about them. Our state legislature is one of the most active in the country in targeting LGBT+ community members with policies that cause harm. There’s a reason Idaho has one of the highest rates of youth suicide, especially among the LGBT+ community.

We know most Idahoans don’t support these actions, but the extreme agenda is being enacted, nonetheless. And who knows what legislators will come up with next year after out-of-state interests decide what they will push.

We need those outside the LGBT+ community to actively work with us against these attempts to dehumanize us—and not just during Pride month. We can’t be remembered and celebrated one month out of the year and forgotten during the rest of the year. Being LGBT+ isn’t a choice or a costume we can put on and take off for one month of the year. No matter where you stand politically, I hope this Pride Month inspires you to learn, be more involved, and help us fight back. 

Cecile Pérez is mental health professional and serves as the D32 legislative chair for the Bonneville County Democratic Central Committee.