Happy LGBT pride month! Looking for Pride Events in New Jersey? Here Click here!
The rainbow cavalcade on social media can only mean one thing: it’s Pride Month, an annual celebration of LGBT culture and politics. Pride celebrations are very different from the old days when AIDS ruthlessly trampled on the LGBT community.
Today, Pride of more is a celebration of our community’s fiercely contested cultural and political mojo. Instead of AIDS memorials, for example, we have now overseen climbing walls for LGBT children to play on while their mothers enjoy the live band.
But a lot of people who don’t feel the rainbow. They want LGBT people to go home and be quiet. They call us dividers for putting on a parade and remain furious with LGBT people for flaunting our lifestyles and shoving it down everyone’s throats.
So here’s why Pride Month is more relevant than ever:
1. Visibility matters.
When asked “Why is it still important,” NJ State Senator Loretta Weinberg called the pride month a “sign of community together.”
She’s right. Visibility matters. It might not matter to you, and that’s okay. But it is important for all gay children in America who grow up without the love and support of their parents.
2. Because they still call us queers
I’ve been called a queer enough to know that these kinds of insults are rare and usually fall on my back. But every queer (in this case me) has its limits. Just before COVID, during a protest against the NJ bear hunt, a few brothers swerved their Dodge pickup uncomfortably and shouted something like “you’re all a bunch of c ** ks- ckers! Get the pu-k out here! “
Without missing a beat, I hit back something like “besides all of you, I’m the only asshole here right now!”
My fellow activists congratulated me on having had the last word. They seemed full of energy as they watched me defend myself. I felt like my quick response had won the moment and kept me from losing face. But here’s the tea: Being called a queer (or worse) in front of my activist and media cohorts was actually really humiliating.
As long as homophobic slurs circulate freely in America, we will continue to make our pride month, thank you very much.
Still not equal.
Dean Dafis is the Deputy Mayor of Maplewood NJ.
“The laws that oppress us are still being passed,” Dafis said. “Our dignity still rests in the hands of the Supreme Court, shame and stigma permeates every hateful act, our political representation is thin (although better than it was), trans people are murdered with impunity,” trans youth are denied access to sports and washrooms, because LGBTQ youth are denied an LGBTQ inclusive curriculum in their studies, because LGBTQ youth are much more likely to have suicidal thoughts.
This is why we are walking.
America’s “most heterosexual state legislature.”
There are 120 seats in the NJ General Assembly, none held by an LGBT person. We’ll hear a lot of flattery this Pride Month, especially from Democrats who love equality memes. But at the end of the day, gatekeepers from both parties very rarely give LGBT people a path to higher positions.
I live in Cherry Hill, home of the Camden County Democratic Committee, arguably the most dominant political machine in modern NJ political history. So, can someone tell me the last time the Camden Democrats elected (or even appointed) an LGBT person to become mayor, county commissioner or state legislator?
Because I don’t remember that it happened.
Not a fetish
Pride matters “because trans people are always bullied and murdered almost all the time,” said Jackie Cornell. “And because our sexuality is always fetishized, symbolized and used as a wedge or a political issue.”
Ms Cornell is the former No. 2 in the New Jersey Department of Health where she promoted HIV eradication. She was # 21 on InsiderNJ’s most recent power OUT 100 list, a tribute to New Jersey’s politically influential LGBT people.
Ok, so let’s discuss the part about our fetishized sexuality. Difficult to contemplate, isn’t it? Well, here’s a little more tea: linking the word ‘lesbian’ in Porn Hub’s search engine brought in over 84,657 results. That’s a lot of content produced and packaged primarily for straight consumption. The actors of so-called lesbian porn are usually straight women who play gay for pay.
For whom, according to the porn market, there is a booming demand.
Trans lives matter
So why are we walking?
“Just a reminder that trans people are brutally killed every day,” Tim Eustace told InsiderNJ. “We did not win the battle.
A former member of the Assembly, Tim Eustace, was the only lawmaker in the LGBT state of NJ when he tried his luck at a vacant Senate seat. The NJ Democratic Party has rallied around a rival sending Eustace to retirement.
Still no AIDS vaccine
Remember when a global pandemic hit the general population and we developed several therapeutic vaccines in record time?
Remember when a global pandemic hit the LGBT population and the government did nothing. And 40 years later, still no vaccine against HIV.
As long as there is no HIV vaccine, we will continue Pride Month.
Jay Lassiter is an award-winning writer and podcaster who has been living with HIV for almost 30 years. It’s pride month because it’s fun. He’s on Twitter @Jay_Lass.
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