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.