Originally published as an op-ed in The Oklahoman.
Today culminates LGBT Pride Month for those of us in central Oklahoma. It is a time when lesbians, gay men, bisexual and transgender Oklahomans celebrate with allies in a public display of community. When asked, “Why do we need an LGBT pride parade?” I frequently answer, “Because there is much of which to be proud.”
I’m no more proud of my sexual orientation than of my hair color or my height. It is just a part of who I am. But I have tremendous pride in the women and men, youth and seniors who have made and are making positive advances toward equality for all people.
As a community, we are proud of those gay men and women who served their country, all while knowing they could be dishonorably discharged just for who they were. We are proud of the clergy, across denominational and faith lines, who embrace love for all people, knowing they could lose their position for espousing their core ideals.
We are proud of the children who endured taunts and bullying to become strong adults, and proud of the educators who refused to allow bullying of any child. We are proud of our LGBT elected officials and those allies in office who believe that every American deserves the same treatment as every other American.
We are proud of the LGBT writers and actors, architects and artists who have created books and characters, designs, music, and art that will impact generations for centuries.
We are proud of LGBT couples who have become role-model parents and the straight parents who support, love, and encourage their gay children just as they are. We are proud of Oklahoma employers who celebrate inclusivity and provide same-gender partner benefits to their employees.
And we take pride in the work of our many LGBT small-business owners.
We are proud that the US government recognizes our legal marriages and treats same-gender couples with equity. And we are especially proud of those couples in Oklahoma and every other state who have risked their savings and, in some cases, their safety to secure marriage equality.
We are proud of our lawyers and doctors, accountants and police officers. We are proud of our hairdressers and interior designers and our landscape crews. We take pride in our fabulous drag queens and macho leather kings, our motorcycle mamas and club kids, especially when standing side-by-side with our PTA moms and the quiet couple from down the block.
We are proud that our history of struggle, defeat, and accomplishments is not forgotten and that it will serve as a model for others in their quest for freedom and equality.
We are proud of the advancements we have made in equality in Oklahoma and in our nation. And we are proud in the knowledge that we will not slow down, not give up until equality is a reality for all people. That’s why we need an LGBT Pride Parade. Because there is much of which to be proud.