By Dr. Brooke Huffman, ND
June is Gay Pride month, and this year it was deeply marred by the Orlando shooting. As gay pride events all over the country took a somber tone this year, we are reminded that while we have come a long way towards equality for our LGBT siblings, there is ever more to go.
Gay Pride month and it's events have always been about defiant celebration. In June of 1969, the police raided Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village bar which was one of few places at that time that openly gay people could congregate. Rather than be beaten down and dispersed, a raid erupted. New York City's first Pride parade marked this upraising one year later, in June 1970.
Over the decades, Pride month has highlighted a range of struggles, victories and losses. From the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s, to the more recent hard-fought victories for marriage equality, making gay marriage legal nationwide in June 2015.
Horrifically, the murder of 49 people on June 12th at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando has reminded the world that LGBT people remain a target of deadly violence and discrimination. We know that gay kids are still being kicked out of their homes for being gay and sleeping on the streets; in fact it is estimated that 40% of youth on the streets are gay. Trans people are still being beaten and killed simply for being trans. And in most states, it is still legal to fire an employee on the basis of sexual orientation. To many in the LGBT community itself, no such reminder such as Orlando was needed, and these past few weeks have been especially terrifying.
Yet today we stand together as the LGBT community and their allies. We embrace one another. We grieve together over the tremendous loss of lives at the hand of one hateful man and his ideologies that manifested as the Orlando shootings. We stand together and have hope as those who believe that, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."