It’s easy to lose sight of the true meaning of LGBTQ Pride amid all the rainbow colors, glitter, music and dancing. If there’s one thing that’s true about the gays, it’s that we do know how to have fun (just don’t ask me to dance, please). So it’s somewhat understandable why some straight men would want to have their own “straight Pride” parade.

LGBTQ Pride isn’t about celebrating sexual orientation or gender identity or what someone is carrying between their legs. It’s about celebrating the blood, sweat and tears poured into a movement that won LGBTQ people equal rights to housing and employment; the freedom to adopt and raise our own families; and, of course, the dignity and right to marry and share in the benefits that come with marriage.

LGBTQ Pride is both about progress and about the rights and freedoms still to be won.

It wasn’t that long ago that Maine voters passed a referendum that legalized same-sex marriage. Years before that, they had the opposite view and vetoed a marriage equality bill signed by then-Gov. John Baldacci.

People of my generation, the millennial generation, came of age while the issue was being debated here in Maine. But plenty of people in older generations lived through some of the darkest days in LGBTQ history, whether it was the outright criminalization of homosexual activity and behavior, the AIDS epidemic or policies such as the Defense of Marriage Act and “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

The meaning of Pride is not lost on me as an LGBTQ millennial. I would not be where I am today, living out and proud, if it were not for the brave souls who came before me: the courageous queers who came out despite warnings that they would be shunned, ridiculed, fired or even beaten and/or killed.

We, as a society, would not be where we are today if it were not for the champions who took up what, then, seemed like an impossible cause.

Now, 50 years later, LGBTQ people are no longer the sexual deviants, mentally diseased or predators depicted by the likes of the Westboro Baptist Church or Jerry Falwell and his “Moral” Majority.

Today, we are your sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, fathers and mothers, and grandfathers and grandmothers; we are your friends, your co-workers and your neighbors. We break bread together, laugh together and cry together.

But LGBTQ Pride is not only about how far we’ve come – it is also a constant reminder of how far we’ve yet to go to win full equality for LGBTQ people. This is especially true for our trans friends, family and neighbors, who live in fear of discrimination and violence on a daily basis.

Hard-won LGBTQ rights are under attack, and movement toward trans equality has stalled and reversed course under the current administration. The National Center for Transgender Equality has monitored the changes implemented: The Departments of Justice and Education have revoked guidance to schools on the protection of transgender students under Title IX; the Justice Department has dropped or refused to be involved in court cases dealing with discrimination against LGBTQ persons; various federal agencies are no longer collecting demographic data on LGBT people; and transgender people have been banned from serving in the armed forces. These are only a handful of ways in which the current administration is erasing the hard-won and hard-fought progress on LGBTQ equality.

We celebrate LGBTQ Pride because for too long we have been invisible and forced to live in shame and fear. We celebrate because too many lives have been lost to win us the right to be proud of who we are and to love who we love. And we invite you to celebrate with us, because we couldn’t have reached this point without our LGBTQ allies, and we need your help and support to continue making progress.


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