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South Williamsport, PA
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Happy PRIDE!

So last year when I wrote about Pride Month, I got a lot of mixed reactions. I received a lot of really nice phone calls and emails, and I also got a bit of hate. For those who sent me hate — you may want to stop reading now. Cause I’m going to be straight

So last year when I wrote about Pride Month, I got a lot of mixed reactions. I received a lot of really nice phone calls and emails, and I also got a bit of hate.

For those who sent me hate — you may want to stop reading now. Cause I’m going to be straight with you (did ya catch that pun?) You can send all the hate you want, it’s really not going to shut me up, or keep me from supporting a cause that I really believe in — because #LoveWins.

The LGBTQ community isn’t going back in the closet, and they aren’t sitting idly by and accepting hate and intolerance. No one, regardless of sexual orientation, race, religion, or sex, should have to hide who they are to appease someone else.

No one should experience bullying, harassment, or discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity. Not agreeing with a life that is different than yours, doesn’t give you free range to respond with judgment and certainly not violence.

Despite what some may insinuate, Pride isn’t about conversion, or making LGBTQ rights more important than straight people’s. It’s about equality. Nothing more, but nothing less will be accepted.

Pride month is the perfect opportunity to learn more about the LGBTQ community and the rights for which they are advocating.

According to the Library of Congress, “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month (LGBT Pride Month) is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan. The Stonewall riots were a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. In the United States the last Sunday in June was initially celebrated as ‘Gay Pride Day,’ but the actual day was flexible. In major cities across the nation, the ‘day’ soon grew to encompass a month-long series of events. Today, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts, and LGBT Pride Month events attract millions of participants around the world. Memorials are held during this month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.”

As far as I know, there are no Pride events scheduled in the immediate area — hopefully that will change in the coming years (and please correct me if I am wrong!) — but if you want to get out and be supportive Lancaster Pride is on the 24th and Erie Pride is on the 30th. There is also the Central PA Pride Festival in Harrisburg in July and in New York City’s on June 22-23.

Anything small helps fight for equality. Hang a flag, change your Facebook picture, speak up when you hear discriminatory talk, or make a donation to a local or national LGBTQ organization. If you want to support a local organization, the Spectrum Alliance provides a safe and secure forum for individuals to discuss, learn about, and become confident in their gender and sexual identities. The Spectrum Alliance is a nonprofit organization that was created by individuals who were seeking greater resources for LGBTQ members of the Williamsport community. According to thespectrumalliance.org, “We believe that strengthening the individual empowers the community as a whole. As such, we strive to get to know everyone who attends our meetings, and help them find their own strength and happiness.”

You can also support/patronize locally owned/friendly LGBTQ businesses.

Also, fun fact, in conjunction with the Human Right Campaign, if you have an Amazon Echo or Dot, you can ask Alexa for a ‘Pride Fact,’ and the Pride Facts skill will respond with a fun fact about LGBTQ Pride, LGBTQ history, important LGBTQ leaders and figures and other topics.

The most important thing you can do, though, is using your voice. Let your LGBTQ friends, family, co-workers, and acquaintances, know that you support them no matter what. That you won’t be a part of the discrimination and hate and that you will stand with them in their fight for equality.

Although a lot of progress has been made in gay rights over the years, there is still much more work to be done. There are still too many states without discrimination protections for the LGBTQ community (including Pennsylvania) and still too many people with hate in their hearts for people different than themselves. Let’s all do what we can to support equality on all fronts in our country.
Always remember — you don’t have to be gay to be supportive. #Loveislove

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