Opinion: Pride Weekend
Sarah Hustead | Contributing Writer
Last year on June 12, an anti-LGBT terrorist entered the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida, and killed 49 people while wounding many others. This was the largest domestic terrorist attack since 9/11 and the deadliest mass shooting in United States history, according to The New York Times.
This year, as Pride Weekend draws nearer, pride feels a little bit different for me. I feel scared to go to events that are specifically for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. I don’t go to Drag Shows at Rainbow Cactus as often as I would like because I am scared of what might happen. These last eight months, which have seen an increase of hate crimes against minorities across the board, have been the hardest to navigate since I came out as queer almost a year ago.
My mind runs to awful places with curious questions similar to, “What will happen with all of us in one spot?” “Are we an easier target at events like this?” “Will someone try and kill people?” “What kind of security is being put in place to ensure the safety of all participants?” “Will they allow protestors to come into the event to spread their hate?”
These questions run through my mind daily about more things than just Pride Weekend. I wonder what will happen if I hold my girlfriend’s hand in public, if I kiss her while we’re sitting at a red light or what will happen if I tell my employer that I am queer. I wonder if people will yell out homophobic slurs, not serve us, give us dirty looks or even hurt us. Sometimes we choose to not hold hands or kiss in public, for fears of being discriminated against or even physically hurt, like so many members of our community have.
According to another New York Times article, which gathered information from the FBI, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are twice as likely to be victims of hate crimes than racial minorities are. Only 19 states have added protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people against discrimination from their employers. A recent statistic by newsletter Fast Company states that approximately one in five lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans have reported discrimination and mistreatment from their employers because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have taken the brunt of many hate crimes and various forms of discrimination over the years. Transgender women of color are undoubtedly the most vulnerable minority in the United States.
There are many beautiful things about being in this community. One of my favorites is that no matter what we go through, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community seems to exude love and kindness despite the hatred they endure. I know that the attacks that my community goes through make us stronger and reminds us that love is the most powerful force on Earth. That love can never be wrong and that we need to hold our precious ones close, whoever they may be.
Town Point Park in Downtown Norfolk will be decorated with rainbow flags and filled with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies celebrating Pride on the weekend of June 16.