June 28, 2022
Pride Month 2022 ends this week. But that doesn’t mean appreciating the talents, accomplishments and contributions of the LGBTQ+ community should come to a screeching halt. Nor should supporting and protecting the community through allyship and advocacy. In fact, support and protection have never been more important than they are right now.
Ask anyone involved in DE&I and they will tell you that the struggle for human rights is long, hard and interminable. The story arc of the struggle for equality and freedom of marginal groups is incomprehensibly long. Be prepared to dig in and stick with it for the long haul.
Pride and Pain for LGBTQ+
For example, homosexual rights activist Henry Gerber founded the Society of Human Rights in 1924, but it wasn’t until the Stonewall Uprising of 1969 that the LGBTQ+ rights movement galvanized. Leading the way were individuals such as Brenda Howard, Marsha P. Johnson, Harvey Milk, Larry Kramer, Rita Mae Brown and Edith Windsor.
Each June — the month of the Stonewall Uprising — LGBTQ+ communities around the world hold parades, festivals and other special events to spread recognition and awareness of LGBTQ+. And almost every week, there is another news story about a hate crime against gays — vandalism, assaults and even killings. The struggle continues.
The Struggle for Civil Rights
In the middle of celebrating Pride Month, we observed Juneteenth. Black Americans have been struggling to achieve the freedom they were promised since 1865. Among the many heroes along the way were Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King Jr.
Over Memorial Day this weekend — just before the beginning of Pride Month — George Floyd was remembered in ceremonies at the Minneapolis intersection where he was killed by police in 2020.
A Setback for Women’s Equality
Also during Pride Month, a major blow was delivered to women’s equality when Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court. The organized fight for women’s rights in the U.S. has been going on since 1848. At the forefront over the years were Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Betty Friedan, Bella Abzug and Gloria Steinem.
Protests have been taking place across the country since the 1973 ruling was overturned. There is fear — even among some of the justices themselves — that the Supreme Court has just begun its assault on individual freedoms. In their dissent on the court’s decision, Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan wrote, “Either the mass of the majority’s opinion is hypocrisy, or additional constitutional rights are under threat. It is one or the other.”
The dissent warned that other rulings that “settled freedoms involving bodily integrity, familial relationships, and procreation” may now be in danger. Those “other rulings” include contraception and same-sex marriage.
All of this goes to show that DE&I is not a week, a month or a year. It is 24/7/365 for as long as it takes. It requires dedication, determination and vigilance. There will be victories, there will be setbacks. But as President Biden remarked when talking about the Supreme Court’s ruling, “This is not over.”
Cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead stated, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
DE&I is hard work. But it’s oh, so worth it.
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