Pride Month gives us an opportunity to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans have had on our nation. Here at the U.S. Department of Labor, it’s also a chance for us to recommit to our efforts to ensure equal rights for LGBT workers, and to celebrate the great work we’ve done on this front.
We have a responsibility to make sure that every worker has the same opportunity to pursue and realize their dreams, and we take that responsibility very seriously — and not just because it’s the right thing to do, which it is. It’s also the smart thing to do.
Diverse and inclusive workplaces are productive workplaces. Our economy works best when we field a full team, so we can’t afford to leave any talent on the bench.
At DOL, our agencies are doing great work to advance the rights of LGBT workers. We’ve worked to implement the president’s Executive Order on LGBT Workplace Discrimination, which prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
We’ve taken steps to make sure that all families receive the benefits and protections of our programs and services. We’ve made clear that job training and other workforce programs in the nation’s workforce development system may not discriminate against someone because of gender identity, gender expression or sex-stereotyping. We’ve worked to make workplaces more inclusive for transgender workers.
And we’ve done so much more. In fact, you can read about all of the work we’ve done to protect and empower LGBT workers in a new report here. http://1.usa.gov/1FPeKGy.
We’re proud of our accomplishments on behalf of LGBT workers and job seekers and their families. Of course, for all our progress, there remains more work to do.
As we celebrate Pride month, we also celebrate our continued commitment to building on our accomplishments going forward so that every person in our nation can realize their highest and best dreams, no matter who they are or whom they love.
Randy Berry, special envoy for the human rights of LGBT persons, and USAID Senior LGBT Coordinator Todd Larson leave for Jamaica tomorrow (Thursday, May 21), to discuss the rights of LGBT people and other marginalized groups with Jamaican leaders, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of State.
Berry and Larson will spend three days in Jamaica meeting with representatives from the Jamaican government as well as religious, business, academic and civil society organization leaders.
An organization called JFLAG has announced plans to stage the island’s first LGBT Pride celebrations in August this year. The theme for the celebration is “The Pride of a People: Breaking the Rules of Oppression,” and JFLAG has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise the $10,000 needed to pay for Pride.
Editor’s note: If you’ve seen Andrew Scott in the BBC miniseries Sherlock, you already know (1) he’s a hottie; (2) he’s scary as hell as Sherlock’s insane nemesis Prof. Jim Moriarty. But you might also have seen him in the new film Pride, which, sadly, closes today after a brief run at the Angelika. Our Chris Azzopardi chatted with the recently-out 38-year-old Irishman.
Dallas Voice: For you, how does it feel being part of a movie that’s moved so many people in the gay community? Andrew Scott: It’s extraordinary, really. We’re all completely blown over by it. The response we’re hearing from cinemas across the country, where people are standing up at the end and they’re clapping — it’s just very unusual for me. I’ve certainly never been in a film before where that happens.
People just feel very inspired by it, and they have very passionate feelings toward it. So yeah, I’m thrilled about that — thrilled [it’s being embraced] not just by the gay community, but by a lot of different audiences. We kind of really hoped that the gay community would embrace it, but we keep saying that it’s not just a gay movie. The message — the idea of solidarity — isn’t just for a gay audience. All of us are more similar to each other than we think we are.
Pride demonstrates strength in numbers, which seems especially relevant now that the gay rights movement is in full swing and more straight allies are standing up with us. As the fight for equality marches on, what do you see as the relevancy of this story right now? Being gay isn’t something in and of itself that’s a virtue any more than being straight is, but the attributes that gay people develop as a result of being gay – mainly empathy toward other people, and compassion and tolerance — those are things to be proud of. It’s a real message that I find really heartwarming. To segregate people is very dangerous in the struggle for gay rights for people across the way. Inclusivity rather than exclusivity. We must celebrate our differences, and we must celebrate our humanity as well as our sexuality.
You recently spoke out against the notion of “playing gay,” which is obviously something you feel strongly about. You can’t. It’s absolutely impossible to play that as an actor. If someone were to play me in a film about my life, I would hate for just gay actors to audition for the role, because I think I could potentially have attributes as much in common with a straight actor as I could with a gay actor.
You can really make a general wash of people’s sexuality [and say] that people are exactly the same. But the attributes I possess as a human being could be represented by anybody with human sexuality, really, if they have the chief attributes that an actor needs, which are empathy and imagination. So, I do think it’s very important that those things are mentioned, that a human being is made up of a whole range of things and sexuality is, of course, one of them, but it’s not the sum total.
Which straight actor would you want playing you in a film? Oh, I have no idea! That thought terrifies me! The fact that I can’t even get an audition for that part terrifies me even more.
Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association staged its annual Pride Parade Saturday in downtown Fort Worth, featuring entries ranging from LGBT bars to LGBT churches, LGBT employee affinity groups from major corporations to gay-straight alliances to Metroplex Atheists. The festival followed on Main Street in front of the FW Convention Center.Here are just a few photos from the parade and festival.
Watch for a second slide show of photos from the TCGPWA Picnic, held Sunday at Trinity Park.
Many have known it for a long time. Some deny it. Others — like me — who LOVE the parade are waking up to the realization that all things are not equal in the Dallas LGBT community.
A march that originated as a defiant celebration of personal expression, sexual freedom, and individuality, has turned into a parade. A parade full of rainbows, pulsating music and pelvises, and unbridled joy. A parade where straight allies and churches march along with drag queens and kings, leather daddies, go-go dancers, and all manner of lesbians and gays. A parade that people in our community celebrate with their families. A parade that now has corporations participating and giving us money to be a part of it.
And a parade that many question whether it actually reflects all LGBTQ people, whether it’s outgrown its purpose, whether it’s off-track, whether it’s even necessary.
In many ways the evolution of Pride is inspiring even as it’s troublesome.
Let’s talk about some of those trouble spots.
First off: The forebearers of the current Dallas Pride parade have maintained a legacy for the Dallas gay community for 31 years and they deserve our gratitude, especially for doing it in a time where it was nowhere near acceptable or safe to do so.
But several issues make it appear the event has lost its way — or hasn’t evolved as it should. And further, I believe Dallas is not unique in the controversy — too corporate, too exclusive, too white — surrounding other Pride celebrations.
At the predominately LGBTQ (some of us prefer “gay and straight together”) church I belong to, I would hope, in my heart, that all people of all orientations, gender expressions and races would know they are welcome. And regardless, I respect their right to organize/attend churches they might better identify with — churches that might be largely heterosexual, or mostly African-American, for example
Similarly, there is absolutely a specific need for separate events like Teen Pride, Tejano Pride, Black Pride, and in other cities, Trans Pride. These communities have specific issues to address that don’t necessarily reflect or aren’t being addressed by the at-large community. However, to drive these folks into these events specifically because they are not welcomed is a poor expression of the solidarity that should bind us.
And therein lies the problem: When we fail to acknowledge, understand or admit there’s a problem, we cannot even begin to change it.
The burden of feeling welcomed is not on the individual, it is on the group doing the welcoming or lack thereof. If someone doesn’t feel welcome, our response should be to ask why, not immediately go on the defensive and justify how we do include them. We must ask ourselves, honestly, “ Are we really actively seeking to represent everyone and do our actions reflect that?”
All lesbians, gays and transgender people are children of the Queer movement. We are counter-culture. As diverse as we are, we all want — and deserve — to be treated fairly and with equity, especially within our own community.
Some of us want to become more mainstream, while others of us want to maintain our unique queerness.
Some of us want marriage; others of us do not want to assimilate to that societal structure.
Some of us want to express ourselves with our bodies; others prefer not to.
Some of us are twinks, some are bears, some are into leather, BDSM, dressing in drag; others are not.
Some of us congregate with people who are more like us in one way or the other but I suspect most of us do not do so intentionally to exclude others.
Some of us love the spirit of a parade while others want a more vigorous march and protest.
But we are all of us QUEER. And as I’ve said before, we have far more in common than we have separating us.
Back in June, the more traditional month of Pride, Mused Magazine published an article entitled “Gay Pride is for White People” rejecting the notion that Pride is only “synonymous with white, skinny, able-bodied, cisgender maleness.” [Preach!]
I reposted this article and asked people to comment. Hardly scientific, this survey nonetheless yielded some not-so-surprising (at least to me) results.
Of the few folks who would actually wade into the debate, the white folks were somewhat mixed in their observations while every non-white person asserted Pride is at the very least unwelcoming if not downright exclusive. (Incidentally, not a single lesbian or trans person commented on my post.)
Here are some of the responses:
• From a white person: Too often the face of gay Pride is young, white, male, slender and upper middle class. I don’t think that’s an accurate image. The reality is more of a rainbow. It includes LGBTQ people of all races, gender expressions, shapes, ages and classes.
• From an Asian person: I feel that Asians get marginalized and fetishized. You are only visible if you are white and affluent. If you are a minority, you are a sex object or accessory.
• From a black person: The black community generally has it’s own Pride events, I’m thinking mainly because of the segregation that occurs within the gay community and the difference in celebration styles.
• From a white person: I personally haven’t felt or seen marginalization in the parades here.
• From a black person: We still have a long way to go with equality but I think what we are failing to realize is it starts within our community.
• From a Latino person: Every Pride event I’ve ever been to — East Coast, West Coast, Dallas, Houston —has included diversity as far as I’m concerned. But if for example someone’s going to say that my people, Latinos, are under-represented, first of all I would question that, and also I would say it’s up to my chicos to get up there on a float, not wait to be asked.
• From a white person: I do think that this issue in the LGBT community reflects issues affecting the society at large.
• From a black person: I don’t know if it’s just my city or the because I live in the South, but I don’t feel welcomed at gay functions that are predominately white let alone feel apart of the gay community.
• From a white person: As an older member of the LGBT community, I don’t necessarily feel “celebrated” by the younger ones, but that’s just how it is. There certainly is plenty of racism, ageism, and sexism in our community, and especially discrimination among the sub-groups.
Sadly, the Dallas Pride Parade’s history of all-white grand marshals propagates the notion that “Pride” isn’t for non-whites. Their recent evolution allowing the community to submit nominations is a step in the right direction but it’s not near enough.
Also deeply problematic for us is that we allow groups to give us money with one hand while their other hand is extended to those who would oppress us and continue to marginalize us or used to marginalize their own employees. I am deeply concerned that we will just take anyone’s money to support us. Frankly, if you’re going to vote against my equality or support causes that marginalize me, you can keep your damn money. Period.
And beyond our [un]intentional exclusivity, it’s important to consider what a Pride parade is all about anyway. I believe it is first and foremost a celebration. But it is also a vigorous, counter-cultural display of solidarity and assertion of our queerness.
As much as gays and lesbians have become accepted into mainstream society (we still have much work to do on behalf of our trans sisters and brothers), there is much work to do to reach a point where we are all respected for who we are — even if we choose not to assimilate.
We all love a good parade, especially a gay one. (Wait! Aren’t they all pretty gay?) But sisters and brothers, we must MARCH!
Cathedral of Hope minister — and someone I refer to as a spiritual matriarch — the Rev. Shelley Hamilton challenged us last year in her Pride Sunday sermon: “It’s time to give up parades and start marching.” [And trust: she had a LOT of other good things to say, too! “Hallelujah and Amen,” indeed!]
So, those are the trouble spots.
Here’s what I want to know:
How do other community members get involved in the leadership of the Pride celebration?
What is the organizing group doing to make sure that every single facet of our community is represented?
Why isn’t there a purposefully diverse parade committee — diverse in every area in terms of race, gender expression, sexual identity — appointed to plan the parade?
Why do we not create a morals and ethics committee to vet every single sponsor to ensure they’re there to SUPPORT our community and not exploit us.
How can we come together to create a festival that is free to everyone who wants to attend?
The parade appears to be “owned” by a group, but PRIDE is not owned by any one organization, any one race, any one sexual identity. WE — people of every gender, every race, age, HIV status, yea every group — We have done it without corporate money before and the results were world-changing. And we can do it again.
There are some people who think the “image” of the Pride parade should be cleaned up, edited. Folks, our self-expression is not what needs to be cleaned up. Our hearts need to change and our actions need to reflect that change.
I believe there is room in Dallas Pride for all of us and yet, perhaps Dallas is a two-Pride-events city. Regardless, let’s create a community in Dallas that includes everyone, that respects everyone, that holds accountable those who would proclaim to support, and that gives each other — and our allies — room to grow.
The notion of PRIDE is to celebrate who we are. To educate the community and world around us. To march proudly for ourselves. To act up.
Let’s come to the table, all of us, and start working toward that. Together.
I leave us with this:
“Each of us has lived through some devastation, some loneliness, some weather superstorm or spiritual superstorm. When we look at each other we must say, I understand. I understand how you feel because I have been there myself. We must support each other because each of us is more alike than we are unalike.”
― Maya Angelou
Todd Whitley is a local activist who can usually be found tweeting (@toddwhitley), holding a picket sign, thrift store shopping, or eating Tex-Mex. Read his blog at tdub68.wordpress.com.
They also announced that Todd Cooper (aka Scarlett Rayne), DeeJay Johannasen, David Mack Henderson and the Rev. Ken Ehrke have been nominated for the 2014 Raina Lea Award.
Honorary Grand Marshals are Chris McNoksy and Sven Stricker.
Tarrant County Gay Pride Week 2014 will be Oct. 2-12, beginning with a Pride Kick-Off Show on Oct. 2. The website doesn’t have details on the show posted yet, but keep watching. I am sure the info will be there soon.
The Pride Parade and Street Festival will be Saturday, Oct. 4, from noon-6 p.m., and is once again being held in downtown Fort Worth. The parade begins on Weatherford Street on the north side of downtown, and ends further south on Houston Street. The Pride Street Festival — with live entertainment, vendors and food and beverage booths — will be set up at the intersection of Houston and 9th Streets.
TCGPWA’s popular Pride Picnic at Trinity Park will be held from noon-6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5, and will feature a DJ, live entertainment, group activities, friendly competitions and a free Pride Kids Zone. Community organizations and vendors will have booths set up, and there will be beer, other beverages and food available, too.
Pride Week continues with the 15th annual Q-Cinema Film Festival at Rose Marine Theatre. See details here.
History was made in Killeen, Texas, when Fort Hood, the largest Army base in the free world, held its first Pride month celebration on June 25.
My wife and I carpooled with several LGBTQ and straight allies to Fort Hood, for the event, which took place in the Club Hood Grande Ballroom. We were some of the first to arrive and were given seats in the center row. I quickly set up my video camera in the aisle to get a perfect shot of the podium.
As soldiers in camouflage fatigues began to trickle in, I walked around and spoke with them. I met John, who introduced himself as the husband of Captain Robert W. Caruso, the chaplain who would be giving the invocation. John and I were viewing large posters on display: a photo of the Oval Office with President Obama signing the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, black-and-white snapshots of the first LGBT protest in front of the White House, circa 1965, led by Frank Kameny, and other photos with captions of interest.
The Black Jacks Brass Quintet of the 1st Cavalry Division began to warm up and in the midst of the music and buzz of conversations, you could feel the excitement and growing anticipation of what was to come.
I felt compelled to capture these moments as they unfolded before me. I grabbed my phone and began using it to do impromptu 30 second interviews: “Please state your name and tell me why it is important for you to be here today.”
Everyone I approached was eager to share their thoughts and leaned close to speak loudly into the microphone. They wanted to be heard as much as I wanted to record their voices. The din of musicians tuning instruments was not going to deter them. We all sensed the significance and gravity of this moment. We were never going back. “Silent No More” was a reality.
This was the beginning of a new Army tradition, and because Fort Hood was leading the way, I knew the surrounding civilian communities — and indeed the whole state of Texas — would follow — even if kicking and screaming. They would have to acknowledge us and respect us and see us for who we are.
Diversity and inclusion were winning the day. Same-sex couples were proudly sitting together, one in uniform, the other in street clothes, both smiling broadly.
Sgt. Major Michael Horton and her wife were among the mixed — military/civilian — couples there. Sgt. Major Horton said, “I am here to help support our Pride month. We have seen a big change in the Army and it has made it a better unit, a better force.”
Her wife, Consuela Jackson Horton, added, “I’m here to show support and I’m actually very excited to see the military community coming together as one.”
I was able to catch up with Capt. Caruso, who said, “I’m here because this is a momentous event. It’s historical, and I’m excited about it. I’m a gay man, out of the closet, and I’ve been a chaplain for two years, after seven years serving in ordained ministry as a civilian, and I am now married to my partner John.
“Our community is now able to express themselves and be open with who they are,” Caruso said. “My ministry is to all soldiers, but I have now had many gay and lesbian soldiers come to me with their issues. It is a different Army now. Its a good thing, but also very new.”
Caruso agreed that this new openness is making the Army stronger and healthier. “’Strength in Diversity’ is a core Army value,” he said. “Diversity is the anchor that holds the Army together, in my opinion. It’s what makes us who we are. We are a microcosm of society.”
Patricia Amazon Muldrow Roberts came with a group from the Bell County and Stonewall Democrats. She said she made the trip because “it is an opportunity and a privilege to be at Fort Hood to honor our soldiers. Our commander-in-chief has set a tone that now gay people, heterosexual people and transgender people — it doesn’t matter — can walk proudly with their partners and not be afraid. I’m proud to be here. I’m so glad to be here. As a black woman I can say the first time we were recognized and we were able to go into a restaurant and we were able to not use the back door — what that felt like. … I just wanted to stand beside my brothers and sisters and let them know we’re all one!”
Brigadier Gen. Tammy Smith was the guest speaker. She was the first LGBT Army member to have her wife, Tracey Hepner, promote her, as is the tradition for a service member’s spouse to do. This action was their “coming out” moment.
Smith shared her deeply personal struggle to live “two separate lives” for more than 24 years while serving in the military, until she met and fell in love with Tracey. Smith said she nearly walked away from a distinguished military career because she could no longer deal with the stress of lying about who she was. She refused to disrespect her wife and their relationship by denying their love and commitment.
Shortly before she was set to retire, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed and Smith decided not to leave the army. She and Tracey proudly live on base in a family housing unit.
Smith’s story stirred many in the audience. Straight allies I invited to attend with me were moved to tears. On a gut level, they began to understand the sacrifice Smith and so many LGBT service members were forced to make.
Protecting the rights and freedoms of fellow U.S. citizens would not afford them any safety. They would be denied those very same rights and witness the court martial and disgraceful dismissal their LGBTQ comrades and battle buddies.
I will never forget the moment my wife and I introduced ourselves to Gen. Smith and thanked her and Hepner. We were humbled by their courage and grace.
Coming out changed their lives as it my and my wife, Joan’s, lives. We left the event knowing that when we all have the courage to be our beautiful, loving, joyfully authentic selves, we release a power within us that reverberates like ripples from a stone breaking the surface of water.
The choice to be authentic transforms each one of us and rocks the world around us. We become part of a positive “chain reaction.” We begin to witness that which we have always hoped for: Equality. I believe Gen. Smith would agree that our families and our future depend on all of us coming out.
Former Texas state Rep. Glen Maxey was grand marshal of Beaumont’s first Pride parade.
Here’s what Maxey posted on his Facebook page about the event:
I spent an amazing day in Beaumont for their inaugural Pride Parade. See me splendidly perched on the back of a convertible (I was honored to the the Grand Marshall and cut the ribbon at the festival entrance! Thanks Jennifer Daniel and the Pride committee for the invite and honor! All successful Pride events have: a person with a large snake, very cute young men who organized this thing, and well appointed drag queens (from Sulphur Louisiana). Thanks southeast Texas!!! btw, they had a huge group in this parade (and not a single protestor, Klan siting, or Bible thumper (take that Houston, Austin and Dallas)!