Monday June 12 marks the anniversary of the Orlando massacre that killed 49 queer people of color. A year ago, prominent local gay cleric Father Jon Perez hosted a vigil in which speakers emphasized that our LGBTQ+ community would not be driven back into the closet by this act of terrorism.
A family-friendly LGBTQ+ Peninsula Pride Parade that starts at Broadway and Noche Buena in Seaside, 11 a.m. on Saturday June 17, is one way our community seeks to protect against that. Admittedly, “family friendly” is not the image most associate with Gay Pride parades. But, the modern era of same-sex marriage and LGBT-affirming churches demands the rise of small-town family-friendly Pride alternatives to their more provocative big-city counterparts. Seaside is ready to be a part of this change.
The fee waiver requested by the National Coalition Building Institute for the parade passed on a vote of 3-2 by the Seaside City Council. As its name implies, NCBI is a non-profit that builds diverse community coalitions for the purpose of eliminating every form of oppression. Achieving this requires acknowledging not only the differences between groups, but the diversity within groups as well. It is fitting that the most universally recognizable symbol associated with the LGBTQ+ community is the rainbow. Our members constitute a rainbow of ethnicities, genders, sexualities, faiths, lifestyles — and children.
Yes, children. Undoubtedly, most of those slain at the Orlando nightclub became aware of their minority gender or sexual orientation by mid-adolescence in households whose chief aim was to ensure that they would grow up to conform to cultural gender and heterosexual norms. This puts enormous strain on our LGBTQ+ children. LGB youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than other youth and LGB youth raised in households that reject them are 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide than those raised in accepting households. Seven percent of youth are LGBTQ+; but they make up 40 percent of homeless youth. It is not hard to understand why.
Marriage equality was not the end of the “gay agenda.” There is no more important work left undone in our rainbow community than making this world, country and county a safer place for LGBTQ+ kids! That means instilling in them a sense of self esteem. Our Peninsula Pride Parade means to do just that. We want parents to bring their kids to the parade, because we want our LGBTQ+ kids to grow up in a world where they feel safe, loved and accepted. Where they will have no need to run away from home or try to kill themselves. And we want straight kids there too; because we don’t want another Orlando.
A program at Oldeymeyer Center follows the parade at noon. Please join us. It’s family-friendly.
Steven Goings, a resident of Seaside, is the coordinator of NCBI@CSUMB, a Peninsula Pride Parade committee member, and life-member of the NAACP.