Toledo Pride: Cornett: Promoting the importance of prideWritten by Rick Cornett | | CountryConnection@toledofreepress.com
The importance of pride takes on different meanings for those of us who reach out and embrace it.
While some members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community work nonstop to better our communities and lives, others only partake in the parades and festivals that celebrate our diversity.
Toledo Pride is our day to shine with united pride of all races, ages, colors, religious beliefs and political views.
As I’ve grown up and older in this community, Pride has become less about the party and more about the people for me. Many older leaders in the Toledo LGBTQA community paved the way for me years ago when I was the party boy waving my gay pride flag.
Today I’m still waving that pride flag for both the young and old who care deeply about the struggles and successes we are currently working through. This year we made some major steps both locally and nationally toward acceptance and growth.
The President of the United States gave his wave of support for gay marriage, helping break down some barriers of discrimination and hate. This is leading to acceptance and understanding for our equal rights to marry the ones we love. Eight states now allow gay marriage and others are working to join America’s movement toward equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians. Forty-eight states currently have elected officials who are out of the closet and working towards these measures.
Gays and lesbians in Toledo can take great pride that Mayor Mike Bell pushed for and City Council approved domestic partner benefits for city workers earlier this year. How cool that the mayor will also serve as a grand marshal in our gay pride parade this year! I’m also very grateful Toledo Free Press continues as the city’s leader in reporting community LGBTQA news and gives me and Emily Hickey a voice in doing so. Last month, Pride’s Eye, Toledo’s only gay publication, folded, so we need Toledo Free Press more than ever now.
As we gained support from many major corporations like JCPenney, Target and Amazon.com, we still have Chick-fil-A, Cracker Barrel, Boy Scouts of America and many others trying to deny us our equal rights.
Having pride often means losing the fears that can hold gays and lesbians back from being themselves at school, the workplace, church and with our own families and straight friends. How can people feel united in pride if they don’t even feel comfortable in their own skin? It takes a strong and proud person to stand up for their rights and walk through this world with no shame in the fact they were born attracted to the same sex.
Joining in the parade and attending the festival is important because it brings awareness to the issues and needs many LGBTQA people deal with daily. It is a great way to come together as one and try to bring hope to those who need it and celebrate with those who already demonstrate it. There is nothing more liberating than setting yourself free and celebrating who you are without fear or shame. It is sad that we have
to learn and ease ourselves into something that should come naturally.
Pride parades and festivals are a part of our gay history and should be embraced with cultural importance. The first one happened in June 1970 in New York City following the Stonewall Riots the previous summer. Most minorities have some sort of subculture, a heritage passed down from generation to generation. Gays and lesbians, on the other hand, are in a unique position. We’re trying to search for our culture and place in history.
Unlike religious or ethnic minorities, where traditions are handed down from mother to daughter or father to son, we come from families that are most likely not related to our cultural identity in any way. Schools do not teach us about gay history or the many contributions gays and lesbians have made to society. A gay pride parade is often the first major experience a young person coming out will encounter.
Working with the Toledo Pride committee as a promoter, volunteer and activist has given me a renewed hope for change and unity within the Toledo gay community. It saddens me that many of our own are so unsupportive and unwilling to do anything to bring hope and change toward our needs and equal rights. We need committed and willing people to stand up and take a stand in both the local and national gay rights movement. We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go, friends. If your only contributions are running your mouth and clicking the “Like” button on Facebook, you’re not contributing to the cause.
The Toledo Pride 2012 weekend will be yet another chapter in our local gay history. It is my hope that all the LGBTQA community and our allies will support, promote and walk hand in hand for a better tomorrow.