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LGBTQ+ People, We Will Have Our Freedom

LGBTQ+ People, We Will Have Our Freedom


<p>LGBTQ+ People, We Will Have Our Freedom</p>

This July 4th, it's important to remember, that while some try to impugn our liberties, they will fail, because in the end, we always win.

Freedom
Is a strong seed
Planted
In a great need.
I live here, too
I want my freedom
Just as you

The above stanza is from Langston Hughes famous poem, “Freedom.” Hughes wrote it in 1948 when Black Americans were blatantly being denied democracy, something that was only available for white people and the upper class. These words still resonate today, most especially for marginalized communities.

While I’m not claiming this poem for the LGBTQ+ community, it does provide a good representation of how our community has been under attack recently. No one needs to be reminded of all the ways our freedom is being impugned.

We experience it daily with all the anti-LGBTQ+ bills being pushed and passed around the country that seek to demean, disgrace, and diminish our freedoms. Last week’s Supreme Court decision gives anyone – really – the right to refuse our business. Does that sound like freedom when the main point is to deny?

The far-right has made it abundantly clear that, in order to win in 2024, there needs to be captivity to our freedom. They do it in ways implying that if you are queer – for starters – you are less than American. I feel it, and I’m sure you do too.

If you live in a red part or pocket of America, you might pass cars with offending bumper stickers, or discolored flags, a threatening black primarily. Or worse, confederate flags, flapping from pick-up trucks. The messages from the drivers are simple: I belong and you don’t. I’m right and you’re wrong. And most pronounced, I’m an American, and you’re not.

I once made a comment to a friend about how the far right has co-opted the U.S. flag, turning it into offending Trump flags, and he said, “Well you all (meaning LGBTQ+ people) have that rainbow flag, and some people think that’s offensive too.”

Where to even begin with a comment like that? He would have never understood that we didn’t borrow from the American flag, and our vivid array of colors stands for inclusivity, just like the fifty stars in the blue box. Conversely, the MAGA flags have turned the U.S. flag into a divisive symbol.

Each year, for the past 247, July 4th marks the one day out of the year when inclusivity in the country is supposed to reign. When we all come together to celebrate freedom. It really is a singular day in this country. Some people don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, or religious holidays, or have a different day when the New Year begins.

As Americans, each of us nods at freedom on July 4th. And that means every American, regardless of nationality, sexuality, religious beliefs, or place of birth, meaning Americans in liberal New York City or conservative hotbed, Jackson, Miss.

Most of us celebrate in the same ways — with picnics in the park, barbeques in the backyard, and fireworks set off after dusk. The common denominator that is July 4th is put in the past and forgotten about on July 5th. All the fuss on the 4th seems so fleeting and so phony.

On the 4th, politicians will be racing to Twitter, to community events and parades, pontificating about what our freedom means. How glorious it all is. How lucky we are. How special we are in the world. How we are all in this together. Then, on July 5th, they’ll be back to pitting us against each other again.

Because politicians represent our government which is supposed to be the beacon of democracy and freedom around the world, they are the ones we look to in order to keep the fires of our freedom burning; yet, nowadays – Republicans -- are in the business of sparking flames of loathing rather than the love of liberty.

We are going into an unknown future that will be overwhelmingly affected by the presidential, federal, state, and local elections in 2024. I don’t think anyone has any idea of what we’re about to face. We can pontificate, try and predict, and ponder consequences, but that would be pointless. However, and I say this with a great degree of confidence, next year likely will not be pretty.

By July 4th, 2024, there will be plenty of bruises, backstabbing, and bigotry – toward LGBTQ+ people and people of color, and especially LGBTQ+ people of color. The amount of hate will stem from blatant racism, transphobia, and homophobia with the primary goal of provoking the so-called base to vote against marginalized communities, their issues, and their persons.

All of this is done out of a sense of retaliation, i.e., we will exclude your kind from our stores, and our – emphasis our – society, because you’ve been given too much.

They mean we’ve been given too much freedom. The freedom to join the military, the freedom to marry, the freedom to be the person we were meant to be, the freedom to be drag queens, the freedom to be an athlete, the freedom to be ourselves.

Our freedoms are for ourselves so that we can participate in the great freedom expanse that is American democracy. They are earned freedoms. We fought hard for these freedoms. People were imprisoned for these freedoms. People were kicked out of towns, schools, and the military for these freedoms. People died for these freedoms.

All these people made sacrifices so we could one day be free.

But this is too much for the narrow-minded, sanctimonious Christian right, and for the predominantly straight, middle-aged, white Anglo-Saxon politician who, so desperate to win, so desperate to keep their seats, rage at us because they think they will win if they convince enough people that we enjoy too many freedoms.

Over Pride, I met an older gay couple who have been together for over 30 years. We talked about how much progress has been made in our lifetime, and how we can never take that progress – freedom if you will – for granted.

“So many of us thought after gay marriage that we finally won,” one of the guys said. “And now look what’s happening? It’s like the red state haters woke up one day and said, how did this all happen? We must stop it. And I say, go ahead and try. We always win in the end.”

I walked away from that conversation emboldened, and not so much by the pep talk. While these two gentlemen talked about their long lives together, what they’ve seen in their lifetime, and what we’re up against now, I couldn’t help noticing their gray hair, and deep-rooted lines on their faces. It was about surviving, coming out on the other side, and together, albeit worn.

That’s what we have. Our community is rich with those who have been subjected to lots of pain and struggle. And rich with those who have come out on the other side. Survivors along with those who are young, fiercely proud of who they are, and yearning to become who we are. To them, we battled and won. And together, all of us, gay, bi, lesbian, trans, nonbinary – all of us will move forward together and win yet again.

We shouldn’t have to fight for our freedom. We deserve it like everyone else. But if we must, we will fight and win.

We are strong in our numbers, our allies, our families, and our friends. We will all gather next July 4th, 2024, in backyards and parks, together. We will have just come off Pride Month, where annually we acknowledge all those lucky enough to have lined faces and gray hair, and when we celebrate the planting of our own strong seeds of our freedom.

We live here too. We will have our freedom, just as you.

Views expressed in The Advocate’s opinion articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of The Advocate or our parent company, equalpride.

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John Casey

John Casey is senior editor of The Advocate, writing columns about political, societal, and topical issues with leading newsmakers of the day. The columns include interviews with Sam Altman, Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen DeGeneres, Colman Domingo, Jennifer Coolidge, Kelly Ripa and Mark Counselos, Jamie Lee Curtis, Shirley MacLaine, Nancy Pelosi, Tony Fauci, Leon Panetta, John Brennan, and many others. John spent 30 years working as a PR professional on Capitol Hill, Hollywood, the Nobel Prize-winning UN IPCC, and with four of the largest retailers in the U.S.
John Casey is senior editor of The Advocate, writing columns about political, societal, and topical issues with leading newsmakers of the day. The columns include interviews with Sam Altman, Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen DeGeneres, Colman Domingo, Jennifer Coolidge, Kelly Ripa and Mark Counselos, Jamie Lee Curtis, Shirley MacLaine, Nancy Pelosi, Tony Fauci, Leon Panetta, John Brennan, and many others. John spent 30 years working as a PR professional on Capitol Hill, Hollywood, the Nobel Prize-winning UN IPCC, and with four of the largest retailers in the U.S.