June was 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 shared the top five reasons I am proud of the gay community. The first three reasons were:
June and July have been very busy months for me traveling to Seattle for a William T Grant Scholars meeting, the International Academy of Sex Research meeting in Portugal, and to the International AIDS conference in Washington DC, so I am just now getting the last posting done. You can read some of my live tweets from these meetings if you follow my twitter account @SexualContinuum.
Now that my apology for my tardiness is out of the way, here are my last two reasons to have gay pride.
Creativity reflects the fact that the gay community has made profound contributions to the arts and sciences. For example, there have been books written about the contribution of gay men to musical composition and another book on gay artists makes the claim that “A complete account of the 20th-century artists who were or were thought to be homosexual would come close to a chronicle of modern art in its entirety.” A 1997 study on the association between homosexuality and professional dance found that the dancers estimated that over half of male dancers are gay, but that only a small minority of female dancers are lesbian. LGBT people have also made profound contributions to science and technology. For example, Sally Ride, the first American woman in space was a lesbian. Recently a top medical journal, The Lancet, published an issue dedicated to HIV among men who have sex with men. One of the articles highlighted the tremendous contributions of the LGBT community to the global fight against HIV despite enormous obstacles and discrimination. There are countless other examples of LGBT scientists who have made profound contributions to their field of study. For this creativity we should be proud of the LGBT community.
Civic Engagement reflects the contributions of the LGBT community to advancing civil rights and liberties for our community and for all people. As I have written about in prior years on Martin Luther King Jr Day, LGBT Americans played an important role in the civil rights movement for African Americans. Bayard Rustin is an excellent example of this. LGBT Americans have also fought long and hard for equality for our community, ranging from recent victories for open military service, to ongoing advocacy for marriage equality and employment non-discrimination, to more historical struggles like the right to wear clothing of ones choosing to the basic right to not have same-sex behavior as a criminal offense. These struggles continue around the world. A recent United Nations report indicated that in 76 countries it remains illegal to engage in same-sex conduct and in at least five countries – Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen – the death penalty prevails. As US Secretary of State recently said, “Gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.” For all of the past and ongoing work of our community to secure the safety and equality of all people we should be very proud of the gay 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.
Keith Haring image source: http://www.thebody.com/visualaids/web_gallery/2008/gordon/16.html