In these changing and challenging times, I cannot help but begin by reflecting on the steadfast foundation of community, having been established now over generations, the gratitude I feel for those that came before me, and the respect I have for those who so proudly carry our shared Flag of Pride today.
Coming out in 1972, my experience, and how I saw myself as a gay man, was so vastly different from who we are today, and the wonderfully multifaceted community we have been so privileged to become.
Early pioneers that lit the way for generations to come: Bayard Rustin, Martha P. Johnson, Harvey Milk, and Cleve Jones are some coming to mind as I write this. Stallworth and steadfast, in the face of fierce resistance, they and numerous hundreds, struggled and sacrificed to lite a pathway toward freedom and equality that we continue to carve today.
We had found our voice, and that voice was our guiding light through “gay liberation,” and the recognition of our power as a community, the devastation of the AIDS epidemic, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” “The Defense of Marriage Act,” and the ultimate recognition by the Supreme Court of The United States of our inalienable right to marriage equality.
And despite brief, and all too few, successes of our common struggle, there is no respite from those who would seek to undo us and the advances toward true equality we have made.
Still, daily we are faced with the brutal murder of members of our community and politicians hell-bent, by any means possible, on the systematic unraveling of us and a forced retreat back into “our closets.”
But this is Pride, and the time we celebrate that “this is us.” And we, yes, are a proud and resilient people, who in the face of adversity, time and again, have not only triumphed but flourished.
Pride is the time we take to the streets and proudly proclaim the stories of who we are and all we have yet to become. As sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, aunt and uncles, brothers and sisters, and yes, even as children of God.
Pride is the time we reaffirm our commitment to ourselves and celebrate who we are as this amazing hodgepodge of diversity of thought, action, and experience.
And so I wish for us a joyous celebration of Pride, filled with all the wonderment of what we as LGBTQIA+ people bring to this world and those around us, the richness of our many-faceted culture, and all we bring to those we love and those who love us.
Happy Pride my friends!
Pittsburgh City Councilman