Once again, the LGBT community comes together to celebrate the progress that has been made in the 40-some years since the start of the gay-rights movement.
It’s been a long fight, marked by incremental progress. Of recent note, President Obama declared his support of same-sex marriage, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of overturning the federal Defense of Marriage Act and another federal appeals court let stand the decision that found Proposition 8 in California unconstitutional.
In a few less-weighty matters — though not necessarily less meaningful on a personal or societal level — the Miss Universe pageant reversed its decision to ban a transgender contestant, and a local Lancaster newspaper reversed its decision to refuse the engagement notice of a same-sex couple.
In the past year, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” came to an end, allowing gay, lesbian and bisexual servicemembers to be open about their sexual orientation. New York state passed marriage equality. The Obama administration announced new rules ensuring hospital access to loved ones for same-sex couples.
Despite this progress, there are still challenges to full equality. Many states do not have antidiscrimination protections for sexual orientation or gender identity, much less at the federal level. Only a few states allow for or recognize same-sex marriage.
While Philadelphia has antidiscrimination protections and a domestic-partner registry, there aren’t protections at the state level.
Sexual orientation and gender identity are not included in the state’s hate crimes or bullying laws.
Religious leaders still think it’s OK to suggest that gays and lesbians be quarantined. Queer kids are still bullied. They still commit suicide because they think they aren’t good enough.
There is much yet to do.
And though the community may not agree on priorities (marriage, antidiscrimination protections, HIV/AIDS funding) or tactics (radical direct action, civil disobedience, political lobbying), there needs to be a certain amount of communal, concerted effort to gain equality.
No one segment of the community could achieve what the community as a whole — working with its allies — can. Far better to join efforts and work together toward common goals than to let internal strife and divisions reduce our collective power.
This isn’t to say that there won’t be divisions and disagreements within the LGBT community. Or even that one has to like everyone else in the community just because. But it’s important to appreciate the efforts of others and to promote respectful dialogue.
The LGBT community has enough common enemies, without turning on its own.
This month, Pride Month, let’s be proud of who we are and grateful for the talents and contributions of others. And let’s push for progress — across the board.