Who deserves to be treated with respect? Who deserves to freely pursue personal and professional aspirations?
Is your reflexive answer, "Everyone"? I imagine that's the case for most of us.
While this is what most of us would say and believe, the reality we experience can be quite different – and it often is for people who are LGBTQIA+. When LGBTQIA+ people also face sexism, racism, classism, and/or other forms of discrimination, the potential threats multiply.
In fact, many in the community suffer from a barrage of violations that range from verbal microaggressions to deadly violence. There is irrefutable evidence that resources of all kinds – including health care, access to jobs, expectations of respect – are not equitably distributed across various groups. There is also evidence that certain groups suffer disproportionately from offensive behavior and physical assaults.
For example, those in the transgender community routinely face housing and employment discrimination, struggle with inadequate healthcare and social support, and are endangered by what Time magazine recently called an "epidemic" of physical and sexual violence.
This month celebrates the history and the valued presence of our LGBTQIA+ community. It can be extremely difficult to remember and recognize the marginalization and disenfranchisement endured by many in the LGBTQIA+ community. But a powerful way to recognize the many contributions LGBTQIA+ people have made to our nation and world is through acknowledgment and celebration.
Educator and alumnus Robert Garcia, the first openly gay person to be elected mayor of Long Beach, certainly comes to mind, as does another notable Beach graduate – teacher, actress, and activist Alexandra Billings, who has the distinction of being one of the first openly transgender women to play a transgender character on television.
At Long Beach, you belong in every way that you identify. You are valued for all the identity intersections that make you, YOU. There's no room for bigotry at The Beach. We are #OneBeach
For more information, support, or to find community, please visit the LGBTQ Student Cultural Resource Center (FO4-165), Queers and Allies, or Rainbow Café. And be sure to join us for some of the great events and programs being offered in conjunction with OUTober and LGBTQIA+ History Month.
Jane Close Conoley