Why LGBT Pride Is So Personal for Me

In an exclusive Pride Month op-ed, San Francisco Board of Supervisors member, Scott Wiener, expresses pride of being gay, and pride in the LGBT community, that manages to overcome so many obstacles and hard times. “We now have the capacity to put our own community members in positions of power to get the job done,” Wiener writes, “we will win in the end, whatever the challenge.”

scott-wiener

It’s Pride month, a time when San Francisco and cities around the world celebrate the strength, resilience, and sheer fabulousness of the LGBT community. If last year’s Pride was marked by celebration of our long overdue right to marry, this year’s pride feels more like a matter of life and death — *our* lives. As we continue to process the horrific massacre of 49 of our LGBT brothers and sisters in Orlando, we must come together, embrace, and celebrate one another like never before. Orlando was an extreme violation of a community safe space for LGBT people of color, and for those of us who have spent more nights than we care to admit partying, meeting friends and lovers, and building community in our LGBT nightlife spaces, this attack cuts to the heart of who we are.

Politicians, corporations, and people of all stripes embrace Pride and wrap themselves in the rainbow. It’s critical to have straight allies — we could not do it without them — but we also need our own leaders, people for whom support for the LGBT community is wired in their DNA. We are so lucky to have these leaders in our community — LGBT advocates, nonprofit and corporate leaders, elected officials, and others who help move our community forward.

As a gay man and 19-year resident of the Castro, Pride is intensely personal for me, particularly as the person with the deep honor of occupying the seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors once held by Harvey Milk. There will never, ever be another Harvey, and we must remember what he stood for as we move forward as a community. Our community is under intense pressure on various fronts, whether violence, evictions and displacement, homelessness, or lack of access to healthcare. We have our work cut out for us.

I came of age as a closeted 17 year old gay man in 1987, at the height of the HIV epidemic when there was no effective treatment for the virus. People were dying, our community was being vilified, and there was virtually no support for those of us trying to come to terms with our sexuality. In 1990, shortly after I came out, my cousin Melissa and her partner Margie took me to a gay bar in Philadelphia. Margie told me: “It’s great that you’re out with the lesbians, but you also need gay guy friends. I wanted to invite some of my guy friends out with us tonight, but they’re all sick or dead.”

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