Alice Board, Co-Chair
Recently I have been getting a lot of questions along the lines of “now that you have marriage, why do you need protections?” Or, “now that we have such a presence in San Francisco, why do we need a LGBT group?” These are variations on a theme: The LGBT Community has won, so there is no need to be so visible.
I do not agree. There are the very real protections that remain to won all over the world. The newspapers are filled with information about the brutality and state-sponsored discrimination against the LGBT Community in Uganda, Russia, India etc. It is important that San Francisco remains active in those fights. Leading by example, Alice’s own Stan Sarkisov writes this month about what you can do to help Russian refugees.
And state-sponsored discrimination is not just limited to foreign countries. Yes, in San Francisco we can walk into City Hall and be treated with respect and dignity when seeking a marriage license. But at the same time, in a Federal courtroom in Michigan, so called “experts”, hired by the State, are testifying as to reasons why we should not only be unable to marry, but also not allowed to adopt our partner’s children. San Francisco has an obligation to remain active so that others can join us.
And as I have written about before, the Transgender Community remains at great risk. The continued employment and housing discrimination, and isolation from our larger community requires that we stand strong as a community.
And as Joel Engardio details in this issue, our own City Fire Department has yet to join other departments (such as the Police Department) in working to actively eradicate discrimination. All this work needs to be done. All of the work requires us to be visible and demanding.
But there remains a critical reason for being out that will never change. LGBT youth depend upon us to be out, to declare safe spaces, and have discussions among everyone, in order to provide them the room to come out.
Two months ago, a college professor in San Francisco told me about a student he has in a design course. There was no requirement that the design work be LGBT related, but LGBT issues were discussed throughout the course and students met with various LGBT groups, including the Queer Cultural Center. At the end of the course, the student came out to his parents. He thanked the professor for bringing the issues out in a real world way which allowed him the courage to come out. It is easy to forget that students, young adults, and even fellow adults who have lived for years in the closet, depend on us.
So even in San Francisco, in 2014 we must be out. There is so much work to be done, but let’s not forget the work we do everyday by being out and raising our issues in a very public way.