The city has resumed contracting with Bethany Christian Services for foster-care and adoption services after the agency agreed to comply with local law and not discriminate against LGBTQ couples wishing to participate in the program.

Religion is a protected class in American federal law, but gender/sexual identity is not. However, in Philadelphia, along with other municipal pockets across the state, antidiscrimination laws make LGBTQ people equal to everyone else. In other words, if a religious organization accepts city funds to fulfill contracts, members of that organization are not permitted to deny candidates who believe or live differently — in Philadelphia, at least.

To close out Pride month, three Congress members introduced a bipartisan, nonbinding resolution this week to highlight the economic firepower LGBT business owners bring to the American economy.

Suicide in the United States is on the rise — in some states, exponentially. Nationwide, suicide rates have risen by 25 percent from 1999 to 2016, according to a report from the CDC this month.

In the weeks ahead of Pride, organizers, participants and activists individually told PGN that this year, we would see more new and inclusive events.

We did.

Yo! Don’t you know what Pride stands for? Well, some revisionists or people who just want attention are once again complaining. So sit down, disenchanted and folks who don’t know our history, and learn why Philly’s Pride is not only a success, but stays true to our history.

Its overall vision is inclusion. Every stripe of our community is represented — this includes people who make some in our community feel uncomfortable. That in itself is what Pride is about: inclusion and diversity in our community.

As an organizer and marshal in that very first Pride in 1970, then known as Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day, we made it a point to be inclusive of people and organizations we personally didn’t approve of. The debate of that era was LGBT oppression by religious organizations —  and, for 2,000 years, by religion in general. But we decided that if you had pride in yourself and were willing to show it to the world, and if you wanted a day that unites the community, you were welcomed to march.

That is why today in New York City, the home of Pride, you see gay police officers marching — with pride. Saying that police should not have a place in our Pride parade makes those policing all other opinions exclusionist, attempting to censor our community. And it also makes them guilty of what the right-wing Republicans do to our community — stereotype a complete class of people.

Out police should be honored, as should out judges, elected officials, doctors, teachers and almost anyone. No class should be discriminated against in a Pride parade.

Philadelphia Pride has done an impeccable job of picking an inclusive and impressive list of honorees. They cross all lines, from out high-school student Cici Griffin, who advocates for the rights of LGBTQ youth of color; John James, one of the earliest protesters for gay rights, back in 1965; Heshie Zinman, one of the first in Philly to fundraise for HIV/AIDS who now fights for LGBT seniors and Dante Austin and Roberto Valdes, who represent as a couple the very rights we have been fighting for. 

Austin organized a food drive for homeless trans people and Valdes, who works for the City Solicitor’s office, is not only out but serves on numerous LGBT nonprofit boards. Paige Aikens volunteers at The Attic Youth Center and helps to organize Trans Walk. These are people to honor  — and it clearly shows pride in our community’s past and honors our youth, who are already working to build a stronger community in the future. 

These are people who continue to build a community, and don’t go out of their way to shine attention on themselves. Maybe those who are disenchanted could learn from them, and maybe have a little pride and unite with your community on Pride Day. That is the message of Pride — a day for all of us to celebrate our amazing achievement at building community. 

— Mark Segal, Publisher


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