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Saturday, July 2, 2022

Pride celebrates in a darker national setting

DIPTI HAJELAH

NEW YORK ( Associated Press) — Celebrations of LGBTQ pride, sometimes seen as civil rights victorious parties, face a darker atmosphere this year, a national environment of mounting legislative and rhetorical battles over sexual orientation and gender identity.

Pride events in New York and a number of other locations, including San Francisco, Chicago, Denver and Toronto, are expected to draw large crowds on Sunday, marking a return to large in-person events after two years of pandemic-induced restrictions.

Like every year, the celebrations are expected to be magnificent and festive. But for many, they will also carry a renewed sense of urgency.

In March, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation banning the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, which critics denounced as an attempt to marginalize LGBTQ people and lambasted it as a “Don’t Say Gay” law.

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott, like Republican DeSantis, sent a letter to state health officials in February stating that under state law, receiving gender-validated medical care for transgender youth would be considered child abuse. The judge suspended the full exercise of any parental harassment.

“There are so many anti-LGBTQ attacks going on all over the country, and many of them are actually aimed at erasing our existence and making us invisible, making our youth invisible and our elders invisible,” said Michael Adams. CEO of SAGE, which advocates for older LGBTQ people.

“This year’s pride is especially important and more powerful than ever because it’s about people who step up and say, ‘We refuse to be invisible. We refuse to be erased.”

Protest has always been part of the New York pride parade, which roughly coincides with the anniversary of the start of the Stonewall uprising on June 28, 1969, days of angry demonstrations sparked by a police raid on a gay bar in Manhattan.

Demonstrators in the 1980s protested the government’s lack of attention to the AIDS epidemic.

However, they have often celebrated major LGBTQ victories in recent years, such as in 2015 when the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges to recognize same-sex marriage.

But it’s not this year.

“This year we have seen an onslaught of aggressively hostile anti-LGBTQ+ bills in many state legislatures, and more have been passed than last year,” said Jennifer Pizer, director of legal and policy affairs at Lambda Legal.

There are also concerns about a possible Supreme Court ruling overturning the nationwide right to abortion — a violation of a long-established legal standard that leaves people wondering if there could be another same-sex marriage.

According to Joe Negrelli, 70, a longtime New York Pride participant, this confirms the reality that there is still a need for activism beyond celebration.

“Can it be flipped? Yes, I believe in it. It’s possible,” he said of the court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage across the country. This “makes me put more energy into participating in the march.”

Anyone who may have been “lulled into a false sense of security” by previous civil rights victories “is now awake,” Adams said. “I think that many of us who understand the history of the struggle for equality, justice and social justice in this country know that this struggle never ends.”

It’s not just legislation. Those who monitor hate speech say anti-LGBT language has become more prevalent online, raising fears that extremists will take it as a call to action, like the string of protests and physical breaks that took place during Drag Queen hours. Story Hours, where adults in clothes read books to children.

Earlier this month, 31 members of a white supremacist group wearing protective gear were arrested on charges that they were plotting a major disruption at an Idaho Pride event.

According to lawyers, this does not mean that the celebration is over.

“There can be celebration and joy in a protest, as well as a purpose,” Pizer said.

Ellen Ensig-Brodsky, 89, embraced both of these roles in her decades of pride participation as an LGBTQ rights activist.

“The parade is a public display of my personality and my group, of which I have been a part for at least 40 years or more,” she said, adding that she would be marching again on Sunday. “Of course I wouldn’t want to miss it.”

After all this time, the hostility and hostility she sees across the country is familiar to her.

“The intention to strengthen the anti-LGBTQ existence is a return to where I started” decades ago, she said. Then “we didn’t come out. We hid.”

Not now, she said, “I think we need to show that love can persist, continue and spread.”

World Nation News Desk
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