Dateline: May 20-28, 2023, Puerto Vallarta
Your local chapter of Democrats Abroad (Costa Banderas) applauds the LGBTQ+ community as we all celebrate Gay Pride in 2023!
Our gains in the U.S. for anti-discrimination of LGBT in employment, housing, marriage equality, and political representation are truly worth celebrating. According to The Victory Institute, 1,043 Out LGBTQ people hold public office in the U.S. in 2022, including two governors and two U.S. senators. Although a long way from equitable representation, this is tremendous progress. In 1974 Kathy Kozachenko[i] became the first open LGBTQ American to be elected to any public office (Ann Arbor, MI City Council) and in 1975 Harvey Milk became the first open Gay man to be elected a city supervisor in San Francisco, CA. Representation is critical. As the Late Great former Governor of Texas Ann Richards is attributed to have originated: “If you are not at the table then you’re probably on the menu!” Also according to the Victory Institute, the percentage of LGBTQ elected officials in 2022 who identify as Democrats is over 75% while less than 3% identify as Republicans.
We all have a right to be proud about these gains. We are grateful for those who were the first to make progress and for those who are working to continue our gains. However, the message of Gay Pride also is about how we as LGBTQ see ourselves. As Jerry Herman’s 1983 Gay Anthem “I Am What I Am” proudly states:
“I am what I am
And what I am needs no excuses”
Even today, choosing to live our authentic lives can be fearful with lots of downside risks. Indeed, overcoming this fear is why it is important to celebrate taking our lives out of the dark and hidden closet and into the sunlight. Gay Pride helps us be visible for ourselves and also for those who still are fearfully hiding who they are. The first Pride Marches were in 1970 commemorating the first anniversary of Gay resistance at the Stonewall Inn bar in NYC.[ii] The marches have evolved into parades and events that are more celebratory. Today, we celebrate with our friends and our families- gay, straight, bi, transgendered, non-binary. We celebrate with allies who understand where vilifying and oppressing minorities can lead. We celebrate with our gay businesses and increasingly we celebrate with our employers, our banks, our elected officials, and we celebrate with the Democratic Party!
It is obvious that the struggles for LGBTQ+ are ongoing from legal challenges to hard fought gains, legislative attacks across the U.S., workplace discrimination, businesses refusing services, intimidating protesters, and even gunmen. According to The American Civil Liberties Union, a new record of over 400 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the U.S. so far in 2023 alone! And many are getting passed, from Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” and Tennessee’s ban on drag shows to prohibiting gender-affirming health care. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation identifies 18 states where these medical care ban laws have passed and 12 additional states considering them.
The strength of the community endures and even grows because we are not alone. We know that we have the right to live with dignity, security and respect. We have the right to be proud of who we are.
In this time of pride, we are proud of the LGBTQ+ community’s legal, political, and social progress. We are proud also that our party platform promises “Democrats will protect and promote the equal rights of all our citizens — women, LGBTQ+ people, religious minorities, people with disabilities, Native Americans, and all who have been discriminated against in too many ways and for too many generations.”
This year, Puerto Vallarta celebrates Pride from May 20 through 28. If you are able to attend the Puerto Vallarta Gay Pride Parade, Thursday May 25 along The Malecon starting at 4:00 PM, applaud with the proud recognition of the work and sacrifices from those who came before us. People like civil rights leader Bayard Rustin and assassinated San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk led the way for our first openly gay cabinet member, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, and our first trans Assistant Secretary for Health, ADM Rachel Levine. Let us continue their steps marching toward equality for all! Happy Pride!
Democrats Abroad is the official Democratic Party arm for the millions of Americans living outside the United States. We strive to provide American citizens living abroad with a Democratic voice in our U.S. government and we work to elect Democratic candidates by mobilizing the overseas vote. (www.democratsabroad.org)