Anti-LGBTQ isn’t behind us: Why we still need Pride festivals

by Patty Templeton

Before I moved to Durango, I lived in Chicago. I walked past a McDonald’s in Andersonville, a LGBTQ-friendly neighborhood. As I passed a red pick-up truck in the drive-thru, a young lookin’ dude screamed, “Dyke!” Short hair and combat boots was all he needed for that assessment. Bi, is more accurate, but who wants to argue with a good ol’ boy? That is not a harsh story. I know a kid who was kicked out of his house because he was gay. I know a woman who was beaten bloody because she was a lesbian and refused male attention. I know that the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs – who only record statistics from 12 states – show that 88 people died of extremely violent deaths from 2012 to 2015 for being LGBTQ. I know the FBI reported that 1,115 Americans were victims of hate crimes in 2014 based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. That’s almost 93 people a month in the U.S.

Being LGBTQ is not a lifestyle. It is not a choice. It is a natural state of which more than 10 million American adults openly identify as.

The fact that this is still a controversial statement is why having LGBTQ support organizations and celebrations, like Pride festivals, still matters.

President Trump has stocked his cabinet with anti-LGBTQ politicians. Betsy DeVos, nominee for Secretary of Education, opposes marriage equality. Her family has actively donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to anti-LGBTQ causes. Trump’s Health and Human Services secretary pick is Republican Rep. Tom Price. Price stated that the Supreme Court’s ruling on same sex marriage was a “sad day for marriage” and voted against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This being the man who will have a $1 trillion budget of health services to dole out to 100 million Americans. The Cabinet of Horrors doesn’t stop there. Ben Carson is the nominee for Department of Urban Housing and Development secretary. Carson believes sexual orientation is a choice and that businesses have the right to deny services to LGBTQ people. We can get to the daddy of that service issue, too. Vice President Mike Pence signed the “religious liberty” bill (Senate Bill 101) in Indiana that allows religious business owners to deny service to LGBTQ folks. According to Snopes, Pence also supported using federal funding to “change sexual behavior.”

For the next four years, at least, there will be people in powerful positions who actively oppose the lives and rights of LGBTQ people. Having Winter Pride at Purgatory means a place for positivity among all this hate, a place to feel like yourself rather than the “other.” To quote novelist, poet, and activist Alice Walker, “Hard times require furious dancing.”

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