I Owe Pride Month My Effort

I Owe Pride Month My Effort

Equality is everyone's issue.

Pride Month is fiercely important. It requires us to direct attention to the LGBTQIA+ community, a community that deserves attention and action at all times, but so sparingly receives it. Annual parades, marches, and protests allow for a celebration of people, for increased visibility, and for recognition of a history often untold.

For anyone who isn’t part of the community by identity, this month is easy to become detached from. I can say it quite honestly: until high school, I hardly knew that Pride Month existed. I did not know that identifying as anything other than straight was as socially or politically stigmatized as it continues to be.

According to a 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center, "About four-in-ten (39%) say that at some point in their lives they were rejected by a family member or close friend because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.” When I was 15, my cousin came out to me. Thus far, only myself and one other family know.

I don’t have a voice for the LGBTQIA+ community that is genuinely validated because I do not know the experience of being in it. I cannot speak on their behalf. I do not have to worry about trusting a cousin who, past midnight, might reveal herself to be open to the idea of love that does not involve marrying a man and having his children. I do not have to worry about being rejected by a family member or close friend, rejecting me because of my sexual orientation or gender identity.

American law has taught me that being straight grants a privilege that others do not enjoy. Just two years past the success of making same-sex marriage a national law, the protections provided to transgender students were rescinded. This month commemorates the Stonewall Riots of 1969, riots for equality that have yet to fully succeed in their aim. Though I may not understand the experience of living as part of that community, it is human to understand that the absence of rights and acceptance experienced by a cousin, friend, or citizen is unjust.

I am not part of the LGBTQIA+ acronym, but as someone on the sidelines, it is very much my job to use my privilege for the benefit of the community. It is my job to educate others, to demonstrate acceptance, and to promote safety. Pride Month is not about me, but it demands my action. It is a chance for me and people like me to show solidarity, support, and strength. This isn’t to say that that effort ends with June. The ability to do this is a permanent one, and this month simply provides a much needed spotlight.

Happy Pride!

Volunteer opportunities can be found with The Ali Forney Center, Hetrick Martin Institute, SAGE, Brooklyn Community Pride Center, and LGBT Community Center.

Cover Image Credit: rihaij / Pixabay

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Growing Up White Taught Me So Much About Racism

Take what I learned growing up privileged and white and utilize it to access knowledge on all races.

Now, I know this title sounds a bit nerve-jerking due to the obvious reasons; however, hear me out, this is not the article you are expecting.

For some background knowledge, I am an 18-year-old white woman who, in societal terms, has had everything handed to her. And for the longest time, I never saw it as that.

I saw that everyone got everything they needed.

However, I was born and raised in a predominantly white area and had little-to-no knowledge of a different race. In my school, all I could remember was that there were around 90% white kids and a very slim percentage of colored kids —and I never knew that as wrong or questionable.

This was all until my family moved to a more southern state where schools were more integrated and diversified. It came as an utter shock.

In fact, it fascinated me the differences in people that goes far beyond skin color. The difference in hair texture, skin texture, culture, and a plethora of more all hit me in a sudden roar of integration.

It wasn't until I was older and in high school when I realized how segregation and racism consumed some parts of the country.

I remember looking at makeup catalogs and being able to find my shade perfectly, while my best friend at the time couldn't. There was a magnificent array for my skin tone, but only two options that weren't even dark enough for her.

I felt heartbroken for her. This happened more often than anyone could think or imagine and the worse part is, I couldn't understand why this was happening or what to do.

And that is the major point. As a white citizen, I will never fully understand the impact segregation has on the lives of others because it did not necessarily affect me he little and minute segregations stung.

Recently, a scandal regarding a clothing advertisement of a black little boy wearing a sweatshirt quoting "coolest monkey in the jungle" surfaced the internet and immediately caused an uproar of mixed reactions. Some said it was absurd and disgusting, while others deemed it as a mere coincidence.

To be quite honest, when I first saw the ad, I myself did not see any racism behind it whatsoever. However, after reading the history of the critical names thrown at people of color, I completely understood.

Centuries ago, people of color were criticized based on their skin color, being called "savages" and animals with the term "monkey" included. I thought, "no wonder this is causing an uproar in the black community — it's disrespectful and distasteful."

This is what is wrong with today's society. People fail to research and have the knowledge of other cultures before speaking on them.

Of course, to someone who doesn't face the harsh and cruel name calling of a "monkey," I don't understand why this was as big of an issue as it was. We, as white people, don't face that type of stereotypical terms. I can attest to that. I had no idea why it was such a scandal in the first place until I looked deeper into it.

The first step in curing the disease known as racism is acknowledging the wrongdoings — like assuming we are experts in a race other than our own. This generation has the ability to turn things around and end racism.

Take what I learned growing up privileged and white and utilize it to access knowledge on all races. This will help you grasp a better understanding of where to start fixing this society.

Cover Image Credit: Taylor Stambaugh

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Sexual Orientation Vs. Gender Identity

Just a friendly ally here clearing up the differences

“Wait, she’s a lesbian now? I thought she was transgender?”

I hear phrases like these all the time. While they can be insensitive, I understand that they often come from a place of true confusion. For this reason, I thought I would clear up the meanings and differences between the terms surrounding sexuality, gender identity, and more. I truly believe that understanding is a key step in the direction of the tolerance, support, love, and community for which we strive as LGBTQ+ advocates.

Some things to keep in mind:

1) Each of these identity categories is a scale.

2) These identities can be fluid.

3) Everyone has several intersectional identities.

4) It’s okay for people to have discovered certain identities and not others.

Sexual Orientation refers to the gender to which a person is sexually attracted.

Romantic Orientation refers to the gender to which a person is romantically/emotionally attracted.

Sex refers to physical sexual characteristics (i.e. genitalia). This is what is most commonly used to announce whether newborn babies get called “female” or “male.”

Gender Identity refers to a person’s gender as they identify. This may be different from a person’s sex.

Gender Expression refers to the gender expressions to which a person conforms.

Cover Image Credit: Wokandapix

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