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. 

Top 5 reasons I have gay pride: #3 Caring for others

The gay community is known for caring about its members.  The most poignant example of this is the community's response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The early effects of HIV/AIDS on the gay community included widespread prejudice and discrimination. Landlords were known to evict tenants with HIV/AIDS, employers would fire employees who contracted the disease, and the media talking point that “gays brought the disease on themselves” began circulating among conservative religious figures.  An example of this response was shown in the movie Philadelphia with Tom Hanks.

LGBT activist and author Larry Kramer said at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic: “We’re all going to go crazy, living this epidemic every minute, while the rest of the world goes on out there, all around us, as if nothing is happening, going on with their own lives and not knowing what it’s like, what we’re going through. We’re living through war, but where they’re living it’s peacetime, and we’re all in the same country.”

In her book on the history of HIV/AIDS, Dr. Jennie Brier described how the gay community responded to the lack of government attention to the issue by mobilizing to care for those who were sick, advocate for new research, garner access to treatments, and educate the community about how to prevent infection. Many lesbian women dedicated their careers and lives to caring for gay men who had become infected, as well as leading and organizing the movement.

This desire to care for others is one of the defining features of the community.  Today it is manifested through the many agencies that work to serve the health needs of the LGBT community, to protect and empower LGBT youth, and to advocate for equality. The community continually works hard to run, lead, and fund these organizations.  And that is something to be proud of.

Below is a video about the history of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation's response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

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
See Reason #2: Courage and Resilience

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.

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