Because the politics of religion—the unholy alliance of officeholders and pious institutions—seeks to deny LGBTQ people equal rights, our lives continue to be acts of moral, legal, and political dissension.
When we march at Pride festivals worldwide, visible and vocal, we collectively stand and demand rights to be who we authentically are. Woe to those who seek to deny us those rights, whether in the pulpits, courts, or legislatures. They will lose—eventually. If the Stonewall riots taught the world anything, it’s don’t piss off a drag queen.
So much for my transcendent meaning of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, that blaring trumpet whose echoes we celebrate. For a more modest meaning, a few Pride marches render indelible memories.
Through five decades, LGBTQ people have won astonishing battles—hell yeah—but challenges abound: violence, transgender rights, health care, immigration, and criminal justice reform, parenting rights, employment and housing discrimination, conversion therapy, and tragically, our homeless children. According to a 2012 survey by the Williams Institute, 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. That’s 1,120,000 kids on the streets without the basics of life and with zero support in many states because of their identities.
The idea of separation of church and state has succeeded often, but the politics of religion looms over the fate of the queer community. Evil (my word, and I stand by it) evangelicals and alt-right Republicans were apoplectic over the Supreme Court decision granting same-gender marriage rights.
Emboldened by their *ss-licking putz of a president (my treasonous label, and I stand by it), they will mount anti-LGBTQ campaigns within the 29 states that lack anti-discrimination laws. This administration has strengthened the “Conscience Rule” for health care workers. That means if your doctor believes you are an abomination because of a religious code, they can refuse to treat you, their Hippocratic Oath becoming more of a Hypocrite’s Oath. The president also supports more “no promo homo” state laws that prohibit teachers from presenting LGBTQ people or topics in a positive light.
Sort of good news came in May. The Equality Act, a bill first introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1974 by Bella Abzug and Ed Koch protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination finally passed. Fundamentalists registered complaints: The American Family Association, the Mormon Church, and the Conference of Catholic Bishops. The bill will doubtless fail in the Senate and is not supported by the president. It’s progress, slow and doomed, but progress.
Two local bills supporting LGBTQ people passed with flying, rainbow colors. Colorado law now bans the practice of conversion therapy on minors. (Sadly, Denver’s Catholic archbishop is going after adults.) Also, Colorado has simplified a legal process for transgender folks to easily get documents changed.
Next year, during the 2020 presidential election, the Supreme Court justices will decide whether federal laws banning employment discrimination should protect LGBTQ employees. Recently, this court upheld the president’s partial transgender military ban. The two new Republican conservative judges—let’s not kid ourselves about them being unbiased—jeopardize future LGBTQ-friendly decisions.
The war is far from over, but hopefully in 2069, for the 100th anniversary of Stonewall, none of these issues will exist. And really, they shouldn’t exist now, because in view of all the religious hogwash over who we are, here’s the irony: According to a 2018 poll by the Public Religion Research Institute, majorities in every state support protections for LGBTQ people. Great news, but hate from the religious right will march on. To paraphrase gay, presidential candidate Paul Buttigieg, if they have a problem with us, their quarrel is with our creator.
So whether you’re a Log Cabin Republican or intersex pixie, I hope you showed your pride this year. But even if you didn’t, your mere existence challenges the status quo of religious, judicial, and bureaucratic prejudices. You are a living, breathing testament to the injustice of bigotry. That’s a march we all walk the other 364 days of the year.