Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Shout for those who couldn’t

The video above is from NYC Pride, the organisation in charge of the New York City Pride Parade. It’s not exactly a promo, but I think it’s something more important: It’s a reason why Pride Parades are still relevant 46 years after Stonewall.

The wordless video shows the love story of two young women, apparently set a long, long time ago, and ends with a simple slogan: “Shout for those who couldn’t.” To me, that’s precisely the reason why Pride Parades are still important: We remember our past and our heritage, we honour those who never knew the freedoms we have today, and we stand defiantly in the face of hatred and bigotry to serve as symbols of hope for those who do not yet know freedom, for whatever reason.

Shout. The very word sounds antique. In most of the West, LGBT people have a lot of freedom, though it still varies widely from place to place, even within the USA. But, as things move forward, seemingly inevitably, toward full equality, it’s easy to lose sight of how vulnerable all that progress still is, and how, like a newborn infant, it may not survive without nurturing and defence, and even before we achieve full equality.

Shout. It can mean the literal vocal demand for full equality, or it can be more symbolic, like LGBT people living their everyday lives openly, honestly, proudly. It can be an example shown simply through the dignity of living quiet lives with integrity.

Shout. It means standing up for LGBT people who are being harassed, intimidated, bullied, persecuted, or discriminated against, regardless of whether we’re LGBT or an ally, because bigotry demands silence to succeed. Speaking up is the decent thing to do, the human thing—it’s what a friend would do.

Shout. It also means speaking the names, even if only symbolically, of all those who’ve gone before us, the veterans of the struggle, and those who were consumed by the despair that freedom seemed forever impossible, and also those who were lost to violence or disease. When we remember our people, we’re shouting the truth that our lives matter, they always have, and they always will.

We must never settle for “good enough” when it comes to our freedom, liberty, and equality. We must never accept any LGBT person being told they’re less than, worse than, or irrelevant, simply because they are LGBT. We must speak up in the face of bigotry and hatred, and we must challenge it in all its forms. We must show all the strength we can muster to protect out still vulnerable achievements as each June we recharge our energy to finish the struggle.

Sometimes, we must literally shout. Sometimes, we can shout symbolically. But whichever it is, we must never lose our voice, or our heart, and we must always be ready to defend all that we’ve achieved even as we continue to fight for the equality still denied to us.

Shout for those who couldn’t, and for those who still can’t. Shout. It’s what pride—and Pride—is really all about.


rogerogreen said...

I balk at folks - particularly in places such as NYC and San Francisco, who think this freedom thing's a done deal.

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

Yeah, it's a common enough thing in big cities, depending on what big city in what country, of course. But it's true in a lot of US cities, including back during my time in Chicago, so that also isn't new.