Happy June, everyone!
Happy June, everybody!!! A new month means new causes, and today’s is a fun one. I don’t know about all of you, but I sure am ready for a little warm weather and sunshine. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love fall and winter, but this chill in my bones is really bumming me out. I’d just like to get up to make coffee without having to turn on the heater and stand in front of the vent first thing in the morning. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. Unfortunately, the weather doesn’t care about my preferences, so we’ll all just have to hang in there a little bit longer.
Happy Pride Month, y’all! Today’s post is dedicated to all my LGBTQIA people out there, celebrating their history this month. I wanted to write this post today because one of the beautiful things about raising awareness and educating people is that it helps fight ignorance and makes the world a more compassionate and accepting place. The LGBT community still faces a great deal discrimination. I know that it seems like our culture is becoming more forward thinking with people like Cate Jenner making a significant impact on the visibility and awareness of the trans community, but the fact remains that trans individuals still face a great deal of stigma. Trans people are killed in hate crimes all over the world on a consistent basis. Trans people are fighting for civil liberties that equal their gay or lesbian peers. Even the right to pee in the bathroom that they feel most comfortable in is a fight.
There has been progress, though, don’t get me wrong. I find it especially encouraging that non-binary sexuality has been talked about so openly, in part thanks to people like Miley Cyrus who bring attention to it. Even people like Jaden Smith have made a huge impact on the subject of gender just by wearing dresses in magazines, and in his day-to-day life. And you know that social attitudes are changing when a rapper, Young Thug, wears a dress on his album cover. There’s no question, we are moving forward, though progress is slow and often challenging.
June was chosen as LBGT Pride Month in honor of the Stonewall Riots, which took place in 1969. The stonewall riots, a.k.a. Stonewall rebellion or Stonewall uprising, were a violent and spontaneous “riot” in response to the unrelenting police raids of establishments that were patronized by LGBT people. At the time, most establishments discriminated against LGBT people, and so there were very few places where they could go without having to hide who they really were. Because the community was so marginalized, they often found that the only places they were welcome were bars that catered to poorer neighborhoods.
Stonewall Inn catered to the most poor and most marginalized people in the community, particularly drag queens, male prostitutes, homeless teens, flamboyant gay men, lesbians who dressed like men, and trans people. The Stonewall Inn was owned by the mafia at the time, and the makeshift nightclub for the gay community had some serious problems. They had no liquor license, no running water in the back (meaning no way to clean off glasses, which is a major health code violation), and no emergency exits. Regardless, it was able to run without being discovered for a while. The mafia would bribe police officers to look the other way. The night of the raid, some undercover policemen had entered the bar, and called for backup from the police department from the phone inside. The night of the Stonewall riots there were roughly 200 people inside and the raid got out of control. As people began throwing rocks and bricks through windows and become more destructive, crowds gathered and the riots erupted. The riots lasted days, and protests popped up all over Greenwich Village a couple weeks later. This is considered the birth of the LGBT Pride Movement, as we know it. June 28, 1970 was the first time Gay Pride parades were held. They took place in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and San Francisco in commemoration of the Stonewall riots that took place one year prior.
After the Stonewall riots, organizations began emerging to fight and advocate for the rights of LGBT people. The LGBT community began to come together in an effort to make a difference in the treatment of their community and protect future generations from the discrimination and injustice they were subjected to based simply on the parts of their partners, or their lack of gender conformity. People everywhere were inspired by the riots to take action. Gay rights groups popped up in all the major cities across the U.S. within years, and groups formed in Canada, Australia, and Europe (western Europe, specifically).
So where are we now? What climate do LGBT Youth face today? We know that our culture is shifting towards acceptance a little more with each passing year, but how different is it for kids growing up LGBT today? The Human Rights Campaign recently released some statistics about LGBT Youth that I’d like to share with you all.
First, and foremost, four out of ten kids (mostly teens) report that they live in an area where being LGBT is not accepted. That’s 42 percent of LGBT youth living in fear of their community. If we consider that the Stonewall riots were nearly 50 years ago, do we consider this progress to be enough? Yes, it’s true that 50 years ago that number would have been more like 100 percent of kids report living in a community that wasn’t accepting of LGBT people, but still. We can’t simply say that any percentage of accepting communities is progress. We have to put that into context by realizing that nearly half a century has passed, and there are still kids out there afraid to be who they are. Yes, any progress is good, but that doesn’t mean it’s good enough.
This next statistic highlights the difference for LGBT youth growing up versus hetero-normative kids. While 22 percent of kids who are not LGBT cite their studies and grades as their biggest problem in life, 26 percent of LGBT kids cite their biggest problem in life as not being accepted by their family, being bullied at school, or being afraid to come out. That’s a dramatic difference in the type of issues facing LGBT youth. It hardly seems fair that while non-LGBT kids are worrying about physics, LGBT kids are worrying that they may be disowned or beaten up at school.
This next statistic is troubling, considering that it’s been almost 50 years since the Pride movement began. Almost 70 percent of LGBT youth reported hearing politicians say negative things about LGBT people while campaigning or in interviews. The fact remains that politics in America are still polarizing and divisive on LGBT issues. Being an anti-LGBT politician comes with a huge demographic. That makes equality very hard to achieve. If our leaders are concerned with being elected or reelected, they have to tow party lines on LGBT issues. This often leaves LGBT people without the things they deserve. How can our country move towards an accepting culture if our lawmakers don’t lead with acceptance?
I’ll end it on a positive statistic. A whopping 75 percent of LGBT youth reported that their peers don’t have an issue with their sexuality or identity. Now that’s the kind of progress I was hoping for. This statistic makes an important point, although there still remains one quarter of kids who are not LGBT accepting. What this statistic says to me is that our younger generation is more accepting of LGBT people than ever before. It says to me, that with every passing generation, the LGBT community will be more accepted and loved. In this sense, the half a century that has passed has seen a dramatic change in attitude. As they say, which has been reiterated by this statistic, “the children are our future.” One day these kids will run things, and it seems to me that they’ll be the ones to make the changes LGBT people need, rather than the current generation that’s still tainted by the cultural stigma they grew up with. Here’s hoping!
Alrighty, folks. That’s all I’ve got for you today. I hope today’s awareness blog entry was both educational and illuminating. I hope all you LGBTQIA people out there celebrate your Pride month in whatever way celebrates who you are best.
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