Even though June (also known as Pride month) is over, that doesn’t mean that Pride is over. I have been out of the closet for a few years now. I was first out as bisexual, but soon realized that I was a lesbian. Although, I didn’t come out as a lesbian until recently.
I experienced my first pride event this year at the first ever Keizer Pride Fair. At the event I felt so much love and warmth. It felt refreshing to be in a community of people just like me, yet so diverse as well. I met dozens of new friends and felt completely welcomed.
I stayed at the event for hours. When I went home I was completely sunburned and my legs felt like they stopped working. However, it still didn’t feel like I was there long enough. I instantly wanted to go back.
And soon after, June was over. Every company that applauded itself for supporting the LGBTQ+ community went back to the way they were before, homophobia online and in person continued to grow, and many members of my community felt like we were back in the closet. A month full of love and acceptance disappeared in a matter of hours, like it never even happened.
But it did.
For years LGBTQ+ members have fought for our rights and our chance at equality. We faced harassment and torture simply for who we loved and for wanting to feel comfortable in our own body. We lost friends and family members who told us that they would love us no matter what, but it wasn’t true.
We have been told by countless organizations and businesses that they were on our side and that they wanted to help us, but they didn’t.
I never chose who I loved and who I didn’t. No one in the community chose to be trans or to feel like they didn’t belong in their body. I did not choose to be told that I am a sinner and that I am going to hell. I did not choose to be told that I’m being tormented by a demon who is forcing me to be a lesbian. I did not choose to be harassed simply for loving someone. I did not choose any of this. None of us did.
People need to be better. Do your research, join LGBTQ+ support groups, look into what you can do to help in your community, donate to trusted LGBTQ+ organizations, learn to be open, and try, for at least a second, to understand what it is like to be us.
Members in the LGBTQ+ community and close allies will continue to fight for our rights and for equal opportunities. We deserve to be seen and we deserve to be heard.
(Brooklyn Flint is a community reporter for the Keizertimes.)