Paul Carey, our MEUSA Multimedia Director, has curated two collections of fantastic June 2015 PRIDE photographs from New York City and San Francisco for your viewing pleasure. And, what PRIDEs they were! In addition to the traditional reasons, these PRIDES were joyful celebrations of the June 26 landmark marriage decision from the U.S. Supreme Court.
Over 40 years ago, on 2 November 1969, Craig Rodwell, his partner Fred Sargeant, Ellen Broidy, and Linda Rhodes contemplated the country’s first gay pride parade. They proposed a resolution at the Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations (ERCHO) meeting in Philadelphia to organize a gay pride parade in New York. Brenda Howard (a.k.a., the "Mother of Pride’) coordinated the first New York march in Greenwich Village on 28 June 1970.
That same weekend, gay activist groups held marches in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago as well. This proud tradition continues to the present day with festivals, marches and related activities taking place annually around the world – often in June to commemorate the Stonewall Riots.
Continuing in this now-annual tradition (in what we hope will the year that ushers in marriage equality nationwide) MEUSA will have a strong presence at Pride events this year in New York (Manhattan) and San Francisco. For more information on those events and how to get involved, see below.
March with us in the 45th annual historic San Francisco PRIDE Parade - often said to be "one of the last remaining PRIDE events that can truly be called a rite of passage."
Love will be in the air at the Marriage Pavilion at the San Francisco Pride Celebration at Civic Center! Publicly pledge your love, renew your vows, take pictures in front of San Francisco City Hall, and learn about the latest about the US Supreme Court decisions -- when will wedding bells ring? Join Marriage Equality USA and learn how sharing our personal stories can bring us full lived equality in all aspects of our lives.
Sign up here to march with MEUSA in the parade.
For full details on PRIDE Events go to the San Francisco PRIDE site.
New York City, NY — June 28
If you are fortunate enough to be in Manhattan, the birthplace of PRIDE, in June, MEUSA is hosting or participating in several events.
MEUSA NYC PRIDE Breakfast at Playwright Irish Pub, June 28, 9:00am
MEUSA invites you to attend its 8th Annual at Playwright Irish Pub right in the parade formation zone on W. 35 Street. You can purchase tickets through Friday, June 26 or a limited number of tickets will be available at the door.
Afterwards, MEUSA welcomes you to be a part of its contingent in what we hope will be an historic march celebrating marriage equality throughout all 50 U.S. states and five territories. Sign up here to march with MEUSA in the parade.
Other MEUSA Pride 2015 events include:
Salt Lake City UT – June 4-7
This year, our MEUSA Salt Lake City Local Organizers Colleen and Jolene Mewing have been honored as announcers for the entire Salt Lake City Pride Parade on Sunday, June 7! Check the Utah Pride Festival for further information.
Castro Valley CA -- July 11
MEUSA’s San Francisco Bay Area logistics volunteer supreme, Billy Bradford, is organizing Castro Valley Pride is FIVE!, a welcoming, inclusive, family-friendly celebration for the LGBTQ community members and allies.
Castro Valley Pride was started five years ago by a group of high school students who believed they should create a space for Castro Valley's LGBTQ community. Click here to register a booth for a group or business. To participate in the day's activities, check out the Facebook event!
Watching the President sign off on an Executive Order banning federal contractors from discriminating against the LGBTQ community last week, I was struck by how far our community has come. Just a few weeks prior, I was honored to represent MEUSA, our volunteers and members at the White House Pride Reception hosted by the President and the First Lady.Captivated by the historical immensity of the White House, I heard the President speak from the heart and joke with guests. I watched as he welcomed hundreds of LGBT activists. While meeting both the President and the First Lady was an honor, the power in that moment was in reminding me how far our own grassroots, volunteer-driven organization has come in changing the conversation around marriage equality in almost 20 years of work.
When Marriage Equality USA (then Marriage Equality New York) first began in 1996 after the enactment of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), few in our community (LGBTQ or political) would even dare to dream about, much less utter the phrase, "marriage equality." It took years of hard work, grassroots organizing, education and pushing against the establishment to make friends, lawmakers and the public understand that marriage mattered. MEUSA's unique history has allowed us to participate in both grassroots organizing as well as bringing the voices of so many grassroots organizers to more traditional halls of power. Now, as state after state embraces the goal for which so many of us have toiled for so long, we remember that our success stands in honor of those who have been with us from day one — especially those who toiled without ever having felt the joy of full marriage equality in their lifetimes.
For all those whose hard work and dedication to MEUSA made that collective White House moment possible, I humbly say, thank you.
Twice in our lives, we’ve quit our jobs and travelled around the world for a year with whatever we could carry on our backs. So we love this year’s parade theme: Color Our World with Pride. After San Francisco Pride, we will be headed to Okinawa, Japan, to participate in the Pink Dot Okinawa pride events and speak at the very first Okinawa marriage equality rally, to be held in the center of the island’s largest city.
In Japan, we will also continue our collaboration with Japanese LGBT activists in Tokyo and Osaka. Recently, Akie Abe, the Japanese First Lady, rode in the Tokyo Pride Parade accompanied by a fabulous drag queen, and proclaimed: “I want to help build a society where anyone can lead happy, contented lives without facing discrimination.”
Across two oceans, Luxembourg Pride will celebrate the tiny country’s giant news that earlier this month it became the 19th country with marriage equality. The fact that Luxembourg’s openly gay Prime Minister Xavier Battel will implement the law makes the landslide 56-4 vote in the Chamber of Deputies all the sweeter. And as soccer fans around the globe follow the World Cup this summer, we take pride that the host country Brazil, a nation of 200 million people, boasts marriage equality. Indeed, last December the Rio de Janeiro Superior Court of Justice conducted the world’s largest LGBT wedding ever, in which 130 couples tied the knot.
However, in other parts of the world, LGBT people are marching for their basic human rights and freedom. In India, Mumbai’s Pride Parade this February drew a record crowd gathering to protest the Indian Supreme Court’s upholding “Section 377,” a British colonial era law that criminalized sexual activity of LGBT people. The Indian Supreme Court’s decision has galvanized many Indian LGBT people and allies to stand up and fight back. In a rare move, the Indian Supreme Court has agreed to rehear the case.
Sadly, there will be no pride parades this summer in many parts of the globe where LGBT people are struggling simply to survive. In nine countries, LGBT sexual activity is punishable by death. One image that remains emblazoned on our minds is a 2010 photograph of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, who were arrested and sentenced to 14 years in prison in the East African nation of Malawi for being gay and announcing their engagement to be married. The photo shows Steven and Tiwonge—alone and handcuffed together in the back of pick-up truck—being hauled off to jail, surrounded by a mocking and jeering crowd. We will hold their image in our minds as we ride down Market Street, celebrating the one-year anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s overturning DOMA and Prop 8, this past year’s historic string of marriage equality victories, and the wonderful degree of freedom we have attained in San Francisco.
We must create global collaboration and community to truly color the world with rainbow pride. Perhaps no country speaks better of the potential of such collaboration than South Africa. In 2006, South Africa became the fifth country in the world to gain marriage equality—before every other state in the United States except Massachusetts—thanks to specific sexual orientation protection in their constitution. Two years ago, US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg praised the South African Constitution—a true product of international collaboration—as “a fundamental instrument of government that embrace(s) basic human rights,” and calling it “a great piece of work that was done.” This year’s Pride celebrations remind us that we have much more great work to do together.
By MEUSA National Media Director Stuart Gaffney and MEUSA Director of Legal & Policy John Lewis
This article originally appeared in SF Bay Times, June 26, 2014: http://sfbaytimes.com/color-our-world-with-rainbow-pride/ A photo of Gaffney and Lewis also served as the cover for that issue.
I work at a military installation where traditions run high. Being proud of who we are and what we do to support our warfighters is part of everyday life. I have been a contractor for 27 years at Hill Air Force Base, UT, and never expected our base, located in conservative Utah, to take the lead in standing up for LGBT Pride.
I’ve never been more proud of where I work than when I received an email stating the following: “The Department of Defense (DoD) joins the Nation in celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month during the month of June. We recognize gay, lesbian and bisexual service members and LGBT civilians for their dedicated service to our country. The LGBT community has written a proud chapter in this fundamentally American story by reminding us that integrity and respect remain cornerstones of our military and civilian culture. Let's encourage our DoD personnel to recognize the accomplishments of all members of our workforce, and in doing so, celebrate the significance of diversity in building a brighter future for all citizens.”
The email was soliciting volunteers to head up a Hill Pride Committee. I sat alone in my office, raising my hand to volunteer to no one, as I desperately wanted to be part of this committee. When I approached my boss about getting involved, he said I was cleared to take part as long as the meetings didn’t interfere with my work. I’d also have to participate on my own time and use vacation to attend meetings and events planned. That was minor, as I was already eager to get started.
As it turns out, Hill AFB is the first military installation in the United States to stand up and support LGBT activities during the month of Pride. This couldn’t come at a more important time in our state of Utah either, as the Kitchen v. Herbert case is currently awaiting a decision from the 10th Circuit Court out of Denver.
The word is just starting to get out that Hill AFB is supporting Pride by holding activities on the Base. The Hill Pride Committee has been working on three major activities: 1) an LGBT Information Fair; 2) Pride Night event; and 3) Keynote Luncheon. All three activities will take place after the Utah Pride Festival events unfold the first full weekend in June in Salt Lake City.
The Base is holding an LGBT Information Fair where my wife and I will sponsor a booth representing Marriage Equality USA. Other organizations attending the Info Fair include Restore Our Humanity, Utah Pride Center, Human Rights Campaign, Equality Utah, PFLAG Utah, Volunteers of America, Department of Veterans Affairs LGBT Veterans Program, Family Acceptance Project, Rainbow Law, among several other noteworthy organizations within our community. The LGBT Information Fair is being held on Wednesday, 11 June.
In addition, a Pride Night is also being held on Saturday, 21 June. The evening will feature a variety of performances from people in our LGBT community to include a slam poet and several talented musicians.
The first-ever Hill Pride activities will culminate with a Keynote Luncheon on Tuesday, 24 June, where Kristin Beck, a former decorated Navy Seal and transgender woman will be the keynote speaker. She recently finished a movie called Lady Valor which chronicles her life.
The Hill Pride Committee is working hard to set the bar high and lead the way for other military installations to follow us in the years ahead. Hill AFB intends to celebrate Pride month every June so we want to ensure this first-ever occurrence is successful!
By Colleen Mewing, Local Organizer, Utah Regional Operating Committee, Marriage Equality USA.