May 12, 2011
It’s Pride Week, folks. And though it celebrates and carries the LGBTQQI acronym along with it, pride in the name of love is meant for all of us. Let me explain.
Last night, I listened Mandy Carter speak at an Alliance For Full Acceptance meeting. A self-described “out, southern, black, lesbian, social justice activist, ” she’s been working in multi-issue and multi-racial grassroots organizing for 43 years.
This lady is the real deal.
One of the many things she articulated so beautifully last night is that equality is an evolutionary process. How easy it is to forget how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time, how much the face and definition of the community itself has changed.
In the beginning of the gay rights movement, the community acronym was a single letter: “G”— the descriptor for the whole gay community. After much conversation/struggle within the community, the “L” word (that’s lesbian) was added. In the early 1980s, Bisexuality, “B” joined the acronym, and in the early 1990s, the “T” for Transgender joined the band. Two “Qs” were also identified – for Queer and Questioning – in acknowledgement of the youth population. And around 1999, “I” for Intersex was brought into the fold. (Forgive me if my dates are slightly off.)
I’d say that was an evolution.
Wait. There’s more.
Mandy shared that she is working for the fair treatment of North Carolina Latinos laboring in harsh conditions in pickle factories. When she reached out to a fellow activist to join her in support, she was met with skepticism – “Pickle workers are not my fight.”
“Wait,” Mandy said to us. “Doesn’t equality mean everyone?” Gay couples seeking to marry. Latinos who deserve safe and fair working conditions. Poor elderly who need medical care.
In essence, Mandy said if you forget that equality means everyone, that if you say, “THEY aren’t US.” Or, “Well, now I’ve got my rights, and I’m done working.”
Well. Honey. You’re missing the point.
Thanks, Mandy. We needed that.
Then, there’s my friend Gil Shuler, who honored AFFA with an amazing t-shirt design to kick off Pride. Gil and I bantered over email about what form the shirt should take and what the messaging should be. And, as usual, Gil made something simple, beautiful and powerful. A true coming together. Thanks, Gil.
And even as a frightening immigration bill looms, the Presbyterian Church is now allowing gays and lesbians to be ordained. There are victories. There are losses. There are compromises. And there are people like Mandy and Gil, who fight the good fight, each in their own way. For everyone.