Happy Pride, 2015!
Let’s get out the rainbow flags and go dancing in the streets.
Pride month is a global celebration of the diversity, beauty and strength of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community but, what is the significance of this? Why do we celebrate?
LGBT Pride; as a celebration, came about as a response to discrimination and victimization of the LGBT community by society. The attitudes towards people with different sexual orientations in earlier times were not so warm or welcoming, in fact, verbal abuse and violence against sexual minorities were the order of the day.
Lack of education and information on the concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity, along with fear-mongering by religious zealots, ensured that seeds of hatred were planted and engrained into society. The LGBT community came up against grave circumstances; including persecution, brutality and in extreme cases, murder. The world witnessed the gruesome murder of Matthew Shepard; a young college student, killed because of his sexual orientation. This tragic event, along with many others, saw the ushering in of a new era of advocacy for LGBT civil rights. The community fought back. Brave lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people came together in a courageous push against the tide. They knew that they were human and that how they felt inside was not something to fear or hate. One powerful example of the strength and determination of the community was the Stonewall Rioting. This happened in response to victimization of gay people at the hands of police officers during raids at a local gay bar. Scores of LGBT citizens united to protest the injustice. They campaigned for equality and tolerance.
The world has now changed. We have seen a dramatic move toward equality for LGBT persons. Attitudes have changed; people are becoming educated on sexuality and diversity. We are seeing the United States, United Kingdom, and European states enacting and recognizing marriage equality for same sex couples. We are seeing moves to anti-discrimination policies concerning transgender persons. In the Caribbean, discussions on sexual orientation have been ignited, education is on-going.
The progress is overwhelming and ever-present, though we recognize how far we have to go.
Trinidad & Tobago, The Silver Lining Foundation celebrates Pride Month with you. The establishment of the foundation was inspired by a local teen who committed suicide after struggling with his sexuality and the ongoing bullying he faced. We committed ourselves to working with youth who are marginalized to help them deal with and fight stigmatization, bullying and depression. The Silver Lining Foundation has engaged in many projects that have had a positive impact on LGBT youth; including our Safe Space initiative, which provided a place for students to come discuss issues regarding sexuality, gender and dealing with discrimination. We hope to continue our effort in reaching local youth and helping to change societal attitudes towards sexual orientation and gender identity.
As a LGBT person, recognize and embrace your beauty. Do not be ashamed of who you are or who you love. You were born to be you! Pride is not about simply accepting yourself in spite of your differences; it’s about loving yourself because you are unique.
During this time, spread love and light, know that you are not alone, and know that you are full of power and wonder. Celebrate your rainbow, live with Pride!
#PRIDE #LGBTQpride #SLFpride