Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Pride Speech Part 1 of 2

Titled: Unapologeticly Proud

This years national Pride theme is "Unapologeticly Proud." It certainly fits in my life. I remember when I first said the words "I'm gay" out loud, so I could hear them outside of my head, there was this overwhelming sense of relief. It was like I had been viewing the whole world in black and white and suddenly, with those little words, everything was now in bright vivid colors. Life was instantaneously beautiful. 

The experience was short lived though, the very next words out of my mouth were "...and God, I am so, so sorry." I apologized. Over and over again. I apologized to my Mom, to God, to my peers...It didn't take long for those words to begin cutting like razor blades. It cut me and it cut those I cared for. 

Not to long after I came to the conclusion that I was, in fact, not sorry at all. No longer would I feel shame over my sexuality. I had plenty of things to be remorseful over, but the one thing that finally brought me freedom? That, I would not be apologetic for.

The LGBT community is a group of people with common customs, ideas, and social behaviors. Which, in case you didn't know, is the very definition of culture. We are a culture.

It hasn't been easy and it hasn't been free. By a showing of hands, staff and guests too, who here knew that they were attending an event that was making history? Its exciting right? You can put your hands down.

Here's another question, this is for anyone LGBT, by a showing of hands who here has been discriminated against, threatened, or assaulted and by that I mean physical, sexual and/or verbal? Keep your hands up. This next question is for everyone here that is LGBT support, our friends and allies. How many of you have experienced some form of negativity or discrimination or assault because of your support of LGBT people? 

Wow! Take a look around the room. Look at all the hands. Just take a second and let that sink in. Every hand is a victim of bigotry. You can put your hands down.

Most people do not realize that prison culture is still decades behind modern culture. Furthermore, LGBT equality is still further behind than modern equality. Discrimination, hatred, and fear are still very much alive and real. Think about how many of you have experienced it in the last 12 months alone. 

That is why this event is so special, so historic. This isn't some sudden, accidental event thrown together in a few months by one person, NO! Just ask our Superintendent how many times in the past 3 years alone he has received some form of request for LGBT related support systems. We are talking multiple institutions, multiple people (staff included), and multiple social campaigns that were very intentional. This has taken more tenacity and courage than most realize. A child that many of us have loved.

This is a civil rights movement, not just an event. So thank you Superintendent Jackson, because we realize that we are not the only ones who have taken risks for equality.

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