The Stowaway at SF Pride

Standing on the corner of 4th and Market amidst confetti cannons, drag queens, and gay couples canoodling atop trash cans, it all snapped into focus. Pride is as much a celebration of love’s triumph as it is a battle cry for the hardships that lie ahead.

This may have been obvious to you. It probably should have been to me. It’s not exactly a revelatory discovery, but it felt revelatory in the moment. I’ve always understood Pride’s significance on a surface level, but will ashamedly admit that I never stopped to reflect on its profound importance.

Just to be clear, I’ve always been pro-LGBTQ rights, but only passively. I’ve always felt it was none of my business, which if I am being 100% honest, is just a short step away from “not my problem.” It’s ironic, because that line of thinking is the problem. That line of thinking is responsible for the slow adoption of universal policies promoting equality for everyone. That line of thinking is responsible for the gut wrenching statistics on suicide in the LGBTQ community.

Before I go any further, allow me to point the mirror at myself. I am a cisgender white male who attended a college prep school. I grew up in house that quite literally had a white picket fence in Pasadena, California. My childhood dog, Cody, was a beautiful, if slightly overweight, Yellow Lab who I taught to play soccer in our backyard. I went to an upper tier university (UCSB) and had a good job lined up before graduation. Fun fact, my mom drove up from Pasadena just to take me to the job interview, which was only about a 30 minute drive from my school. That's dedication!

All this is to say, privilege was served to me on a silver platter. That silver platter was brought out on a larger golden platter and both of those platters were wheeled out on pushcart made of grade-A platinum. I’m not apologizing, but my life has been just about as easy as they come. There is no doubt that I have been supremely lucky.

Standing on the parade route, in a noticeable lack of rainbow themed attire, I couldn’t help but feel that I was a stowaway. What hardships had I endured to earn my place here?

Slightly embarrassed in my blandly colored t-shirt, I realized how woefully uninformed I am. Sure, in 2015, I applauded the landmark Supreme Court decision that upheld same sex marriage as a constitutional right. Of course, I reeled at the atrocity in Orlando. Yes, I get NPR alerts on my phone about the “bathroom bill,” but what do I really know past the headlines?

Real understanding digs deep. Real understanding and empathy come from knowing how little victories and the setbacks along the way created Pride into the juggernaut celebration of love, equality, and resistance that it is today. To kick off my (and possibly your) journey towards better understanding, I’ve collected three articles.

I didn’t earn Pride, but Pride did inspire me to be a better person. Maybe that’s the point.

Here are the three intro resources that I found most helpful:

  1. LGBTQ Definitions Every Good Ally Should Know (USA Today) - Step one is learning to speak the language.
  2. LGBT Rights Milestones Facts (CNN) - A timeline that maps out landmark dates in the history of LGBT rights and advocacy.
  3. Workplace Equality Fact Sheet (Out and Equal) - This lays out the state or workplace discrimination for the LGBTQ community and shows us exactly how far we still have to go. (This is why we are donating to Out & Equal this week.)

 

This week, In Lieu Of is raising money for Out & Equal: Workplace Advocates. This incredible organization provides training and resources to create an equal workplace for the LGBTQ community. Sign up to be an In Lieu Of member and put your karma on autopilot. Together we will discover and support a new charity in the Bay Area each week.