Gay Pride Month 2013: After a Banner Year For LGBT Rights, It's Time to Celebrate Who We Are

In the past few years the nation has witnessed a whirlwind of progress for LGBT individuals. Sexual orientations and gender identities that differ from the norm are in many ways less stigmatized than they were even a decade ago, and a growing number of LGBT individuals choose to come out at earlier ages than ever before. As people begin to come out, the LGBT community has a unique way of celebrating it. This month, all across the country people will gather in parades, festivals, and social events showing just how proud they are to be out.

Pride Month gives individuals the space to reflect on the history of the gay-rights movement at large and to see that not too long ago there were only a handful of public figures who weren’t straight or cisgender. Today, LGBT youth have scores of politicians, celebrities, athletes, and more to look up to. Marriage equality has been achieved in more than a fifth of the states with several more on the way, and if Proposition 8 is overturned,- more than a third of the U.S. population may find themselves in a jurisdiction allowing equal marriage by the year’s end. Truly, it seems, we live in exciting times.

With such achievement, however, it is important to not take these successes for granted. The gains that have been made are the result of decades of ceaseless work by numerous individuals, all in the face of constant obstacles and challenges. Let’s not forget the patrons of Stonewall, including many transgender and queer people of color, whose bravery more than 40 years ago this month ignited the push for our rights and equality. Let’s not forget those that organized the first Pride events to counter the shame that society tried to instill in us about our various identities and inspired us to unapologetically be ourselves. Let’s not forget those who continued to fight even amongst disease and death, who refused to let the suffering of the AIDS crisis go ignored. Let’s not forget those who have worked tirelessly today to promote acceptance and understanding of all people, whether on the campaign trail or in media or simply by sharing their stories.

Pride Month has always been a time of celebration for the LGBT community, a time to commemorate the progress we’ve fought hard to win. But it is also a time to look to the future, to envision with hope a more equal world and prepare ourselves for the steps necessary to get there.