Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rising to the Challenge

Post by Pride Agenda Executive Director Ross D. Levi

Throughout the history of the Empire State Pride Agenda, we have been called to do great things. We have achieved more than 70 governmental victories by building support and educating both our community and allies. From our early days fighting for legislation that mentions "lesbian" or "gay" to our recent efforts to ensure that in New York all loving, committed couples have the ability to marry, we have worked across this great state, having conversations with thousands of people to help them understand the issues facing our community and building support for our equality and justice.

We have seen the amazing results of these efforts: with our allies and community's advocacy, we can create a better New York for all LGBT people and our families.

The Pride Agenda is excited to announce that one of our longtime funders will match every gift made to the Empire State Pride Agenda Foundation, dollar for dollar, up to $25,000 through the end of December.

Our generous donor applauds the great work we have achieved for LGBT New Yorkers, but also recognizes that our community cannot claim equality for all when there are people in our state who live without equal rights. Our anonymous donor is asking you to join them in continuing the extraordinary process of bettering the lives of LGBT New Yorkers.

Our work ahead to achieve equality and justice for LGBT New Yorkers is varied and far-reaching. We must defend our marriage victory and ensure the successful implementation of both the Marriage Equality Act and the Dignity for All Students Act. We must continue to advance transgender civil rights. We must advocate for and improve access to health and human services for LGBT people across the state and protect the most vulnerable members of our community, including LGBT homeless youth and our seniors.

We are so close to achieving our great vision of equality under the law in New York, and our success in the state will continue to have a significant impact on furthering LGBT work across the nation. With a 20 year history of fighting for New York's LGBT community, and with supporters like you on our side, we will use our experience and lessons learned from the marriage campaign to confront other barriers to equality facing LGBT people and their families.

We must take full advantage of the momentum from the marriage victory to take on other issues facing New York's LGBT community. Your support today will help us capitalize on this great opportunity and bring all members of our community closer to full equality.

Thank you for your continued support and leadership.

Onwards to Justice!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Message from our Pride in the Pulpit Coordinator

Post by Lead Organizer Kate McDonough, coordinator of Pride in the Pulpit

I still struggle with Hebrew. Although I’ve been to a number of Shabbat services, I find myself tripping over every other word. Hebrew was something that we just did not cover in my Lutheran Sunday school. Last month, I had the pleasure of participating at the Nehirim Queer Shabbaton, a conference dedicated to LGBT Jewish spirituality and culture. As lunch ended one of the rabbis at the conference announced that we’d be singing a nigun, which excited me because I know some nigunim and hoped I could sing along. However, shortly after the song began, I realized this is a nigun I did not know and prepared to struggle with the words—then we hit the melody. The tune for the song was the same as "Lord Prepare me to be a Sanctuary," a song that I grew up singing—making the unfamiliar familiar.

The beauty of interfaith work is discovering commonality in the face of diversity. Likewise, the beauty of movement work is realizing that although we may use different words to describe the problems we see, we are in fact singing the same tune. For example, when a young boy is bullied at school for “acting like a girl,” one person will label it homophobia because gay men are perceived to be effeminate, another will say that it is transphobia because he is being attacked for his gender expression while a third will claim it has to do with gender norms and a narrow view of what it means to be male. Who’s right? I would say all of them. Sexual orientation is different from gender identity and expression, but homophobia and transphobia can be very much intertwined. Furthermore, a narrow prescription for gender roles can have harmful effects for the LGBT community as well as our overall society.

In recognizing that we sway to the same melody, we have an opportunity to overcome perceived difference and address intersecting oppression as a unified movement. Here lies our strength, for the walls of oppression will surely fall if we break them down from all sides. Our words can be different, but we can sing as one when our tune is the same.