By Steven Goings
June 12 marked 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 which starts at Broadway and Noche Buena, 11 a.m. on Saturday 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 nonprofit 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 Oldemeyer Center follows the parade at noon. Please join us. It’s family-friendly.
Steven Goings, a resident of Seaside, is the coordinator of [email protected], a Peninsula Pride Parade committee member, and life-member of the NAACP. His opinions are his own and not necessarily those of the Pajaronian.