June is Gay Pride Month. Some of you might be saying, “So what? Why should I care?” You already know someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, and you don’t know it.
Our sexuality is the most personal, private aspect of ourselves. And when that part of our lives deviates from the “norm,” we are looked at with suspicion and hatred because we’re “different,” and “different” scares some people. That discomfort is especially true when that difference is evident in both dress and demeanor.
Throughout history, lesbians and gay men have been vilified by society. However, historical evidence suggests same-sex relationships have endured since ancient times. In many cultures, homosexuality existed side-by-side with heterosexual relationships as people were expected to continue their family lines. Gay relationships were widely ignored or accepted until around the 11th century. This change in attitude coincided with the rise of the Roman Catholic Church and the Medieval Inquisition. As Christianity developed, homosexual relationships were deemed unacceptable. Most of the laws enacted to curtail same-sex relationships were aimed at male-on-male relations. Throughout history, the prevailing attitude has been that women do not experience sexual pleasure in the same way as men.
A gay subculture, in the form of “Molly houses” grew in Great Britain as homosexual acts were increasingly criminalized. These meeting places were the precursors of the modern gay bar. Because “buggery” and “sodomy” were capital offenses in many regions, these establishments were frequent targets of police raids and arrests. One such gay bar was the Stonewall Inn, a tavern in New York’s Greenwich Village. Patrons of the establishment had enough on June 28, 1969, when spontaneous protests broke out over the ongoing harassment from the police. The Stonewall Riots lasted five days and are considered the beginning of the modern LGBTQ+ movement.
This month, I will give you insight into Pride Month and why it is important to us, gay or straight. According to the Trevor Project, suicide is the second leading cause of death for our youth. And while being gay doesn’t mean a person is prone to be suicidal, our culture makes it exceedingly difficult for kids who are “different.” (There’s that word again.) The suicide rate is even higher among LGBTQ+ kids of color.
We don’t want to turn straight kids gay. We simply want our gay kids to live. You already know someone LGBTQ+; you just don’t know it—yet.