With a New Year brings new hope. And we need it after three years of Covid, political madness, and hate. Finding hope brings up the old debate: is the glass half filled or half empty? I’d like to believe that I’m an optimist that is pragmatic with keeping that hope alive.
We in Pennsylvania will soon have a new Governor, Josh Shapiro, and the first African American Lt. Governor, Austin Davis. They have both promised that the LGBTQ community will have a seat at the table. The Governor-elect campaigned on protecting marriage equality, LGBTQ inclusion in his administration, and pushing to pass a state equality legislation that has lingered since the 1970s.
We often don’t look behind the words and see how they can affect people. That word “Equality” means something to us here and other LGBTQ organizations know its meaning well. We still get those calls from men and women who have lost their jobs or homes due to the fact that they live in a part of Pennsylvania that does not have an equality law. Those calls come more often than we’d like to admit. We hear the tears and cries for — here’s that word again — equality. In parts of Pennsylvania, you can still be married on a Tuesday and fired from your job on Wednesday simply for being LGBTQ and being proud of your spouse at work. I have hope and belief that Governor Josh Shapiro’s passion will help stop those painful calls.
In Philadelphia, we have new hope that the William Way LGBT Community Center will grow and bring vital services to our community. My friend Bill Way always believed that the community center should unite us. When he saw people attempting to divide us by sex and race he came up with a unique solution. He suggested that the Community Center be called Penguin Place. When I asked him why, he said with a smile on his face: “when you first see a penguin you can’t tell if it’s male or female, white or black.”
I wish it was that simple today.
There’s hope in a new generation of LGBTQ leaders. You’ll find them at medical clinics, unions, heads of professional organizations, government appointees, and political candidates. In this coming primary you’ll see a wealth of LGBTQ candidates.
As we begin a new year, there’s hope, and I have every expectation that hope will turn into Pride.
Republished from our partners at the Philadelphia Gay News where this column was originally published on December 29, 2022