Looking Back, Looking Forward: Reflections on Pride Month
This month, we celebrate LGBT Pride, which occurs every year in June. This month is my fifth year celebrating Pride Month as an out gay man, and this year I have a lot to be proud of.
I am proud of our country and the direction we’re heading in. When I first celebrated Pride Month in June 2011, the military still banned gay and lesbian service members from serving openly; marriage was still defined as only between a man and a woman by the federal government; and employees of federal contractors and subcontractors had to fear losing their jobs because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Now, the military is open to gay and lesbian service members; the federal government recognizes marriages between people of the same sex; and there is an executive order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by federal contractors and subcontractors.
There is still more to be done: we need comprehensive non-discrimination protections; we need to lift the ban on trans service members; we need to take concrete steps to combat anti-transgender violence and to ensure that not only are trans people able to update their identification documents to reflect their gender and preferred name, but also provided with the same economic opportunities as their cisgender counterparts. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
I am proud of an increasing commitment within most of the Jewish Movements to LGBT inclusion. In just the past year, the Central Conference of American Rabbis passed its first resolution on the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming people, as well as a resolution calling on states to ban so-called “conversion therapy.” Furthermore, the North American Federation of Temple Youth and URJ Camps have been taking steps over the past few years to not just be more inclusive of lesbian, gay and bisexual students but transgender students as well. Meanwhile, we see progress in other Movements as they take concrete steps to become more inclusive. It’s hard to imagine that just five years ago, I was graduating from a Jewish day school that fostered a homophobic environment.
I am proud of my own growth over the past five years. When I first arrived on my college campus as a recently out gay man, I remember hesitating for a long time before entering my University’s LGBT center for the first time. Since then, I have learned to truly take pride in my identity and am glad that I have had the opportunity to advocate for LGBT rights on Capitol Hill as a legislative assistant for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism this past year.
This Pride Month there is a lot to be proud of, and I hope you’ll join us to celebrate.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is organizing a group to march in the Capital Pride Parade on June 13, and we’d love you to be there with us! We will be meeting at the RAC at 2:30 for a prayer rally, refreshments and to make signs for the march. Register now to join the RAC for Capital Pride here!
While Pride Month has become a month to celebrate LGBT identities, it is important to remember that Pride’s roots are the Stonewall Riots—when on June 28, 1969, LGBT patrons of the Stonewall In fought back as the police raided the gay bar. 46 years after the Stonewall riots, injustice against the LGBT community persists. For example, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth continue to face rampant harassment and bullying at school. Take action now to urge Congress to protect LGBT students from harassment and bullying.