By Brian Wenke
It has been a rough few years. From pandemics to politics to a rising grassroots anti-PRIDE attack, the LGBTQ+ community has and continues to face tremendous obstacles in pursuit of equality, love, and happiness. Hundreds of bills targeting our community have surfaced in nearly every US state – bills restricting our rights in devious, and utterly misinformed, ways. We can’t forget the emboldened segment of our population that still believes white supremacy is the way and that certain historic truths must be buried at any cost to protect it. Drag bans, book bans, access to gender-affirming care, and athletic performance restrictions are just a handful of the motivating forces behind the Human Rights Campaign’s recent declaration of a national emergency for the LGBTQ+ community. We are in the midst of a jaw-dropping crisis moment that has the ability to shape the future of our world. But, you know what? I’m not worried. At. All.
Last week, I had the honor of attending the White House’s historic Pride event, hosted on the South Lawn for more than one thousand LGBTQ+ activists, families, and friends from around the US and abroad. It was a joyous experience – one that concretized my attitude about the state of our country regarding the future of LGBTQ+ people. In short, we are out and proud; there is no going back.
The forces that seek to constrain us, to compromise our inherent rights as human beings, will be defeated, because we are resilient and relentless in pursuit of our right to exist. Those who seek to oppress us should take note, especially those who are targeting younger generations of queer folk. Memories are long and our will to win grows stronger every day – it is even stronger when we are with our community.
It is in these moments of crisis that we discover who we truly are – as individuals, as a community, and as a force for positive change. Without obstacles we cannot grow, we cannot learn, and we cannot deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world in which we live.
Today, it may feel like the odds are stacked against us, but I assure you they are not. More and more young people are confident in the exploration of their gender identity and sexual orientation with one in five Gen Z adults identifying as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
There is no going back. We are everywhere, and we are powerful. I have met so many leaders in this space – leaders who live and breathe their activism, who offer their stories to the world with no fear, and who greet each day determined to carve out a better life for all LGBTQ+ people.
I am proud today and every day, and I am more committed than ever to fight for the next generation of LGBTQ+ leaders. No one can take that away from me. It will get better, because there is no acceptable alternative. Happy Pride!
Brian Wenke is the Executive Director and CEO of the It Gets Better Project