June is Gay Pride month
, which is inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and their allies. Gay pride is the positive stance against discrimination and violence toward LGBT people to promote their self-affirmation, equal rights, increase their visibility as a social group, build community, and celebrate their diversity. Pride is contrary to shame, stigma, and oppression. In honor of Pride month I am sharing the top five reasons I am proud of the gay community.
Reason #2 Courage and Resilience. The story of the LGBT community is one of triumph, courage, and resilience in the face of oppression and discrimination. Everyone’s experience is different, but imagine the life of a young transgender person who from a very young age knew the gender in their brain didn’t match the gender of their body. Or a young gay boy who around the time of puberty realized that unlike most of his other male friends he was attracted to boys rather than girls. This young person might grow up with love and acceptance from their parents, but fear that they would be rejected if they revealed their true self.
Imagine how you would feel growing up with fear that your parents' love was conditional on them not knowing the truth about who you are. Then imagine you faced negative messages in your school, faith community, and in the neighborhood. You had to constantly monitor how you act and how people perceive you in order to try and assure your physical and emotional safety. Imagine you have been beat up or kicked out of your house. Then imagine seeing people carry signs saying god hates you and some politicians publically say you do not deserve to participate in the American dream.
Now imagine that, despite that oppression, these young people graduate high school and go onto college. They avoid delving into drugs and alcohol to cope with the discrimination and instead develop healthy coping skills that allow them to successfully challenge it. They form families and communities to care for one another when others won’t. They use their creativity to improve society. That is the story of the LGBT community and it is the definition of courage and resilience. Our research shows that despite most LGBT youth experiencing some kind of victimization because of their sexual orientation, the majority go on to lead healthy lives.
President Obama said it best when he recently celebrated “the millions of LGBT Americans for whom everyday acts require extraordinary courage. The young people who came out as gay or transgendered to their parents, not knowing what to expect. The two moms or two dads who went to an open house for a PTA meeting not knowing how they would be received. The couple that got married, even if their bosses or neighbors wouldn’t approve, at least not right away. Most of these heroes didn’t set out to make history, but that’s exactly what they did. Bit by bit, step by step, they bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice.” And that is something to be proud of.
Below is a video made by one of the interns at the IMPACT Program that tells the stories of resilience of several LGBT youth.
Join the conversation about why you are proud of the gay community. Click the share buttons below and add your own reasons for pride to the conversation.
See Reason #1: Community
Dr. Mustanski is the Director of the IMPACT LGBT Health and Development Program at Northwestern University. You can follow the Sexual Continuum blog by becoming a fan on Facebook. I periodically live tweet from research conferences on sexuality and you can follow me @sexualcontinuum.