Our community needs to be on alert and our allies need to step up. Right now, right here in San Diego, LGBTQ youth, families, drag queens, our organizations, and events are coming under attack by anti-LGBTQ extremists. The way these conversations play out in the media, social media, classrooms, and school board meetings can not only impact the physical and mental health of our LGBTQ community and youth, but it puts our lives at risk.
Local schools, school districts, libraries, small businesses, as well as individual educators, parents, and drag queens have been subjected to cyberbullying, threats, and harassment that is part of a larger, nationally coordinated effort to attack our community. This anti-LGBTQ rhetoric escalates during an election cycle to stoke fear and drive anti-LGBTQ voter turnout while draining LGBTQ community time and resources. These are the same tired and hateful attacks that our community has been subjected to repeatedly throughout US history, and the harm they can cause is just as real as it has ever been.
Our regional media needs to do a better job of understanding the depth of these issues, report on them accurately, and stop centering the narrative on anti-LGBTQ bigots who are seeking to harm our community and our youth. John Oliver did a wonderful job of outlining the national attacks on trans youth and what’s at stake.
In 2015, a rash of LGBTQ teen suicides in San Diego hit the media, and our regional LGBTQ youth-serving organizations realized we needed to work more collaboratively. The LGBTQ Youth Services & Advocacy Committee was formed under The Center’s Community Leadership Council, and we’ve been meeting monthly ever since. The group is currently working on addressing these issues jointly while centering and uplifting the individual work and needs of each region and unique situation. Keep an eye out for more calls to action in the coming weeks.
Today is Spirit Day. When Gilbert Baker designed the first Pride flag in 1978, he was intentional about the meaning behind each color. Purple symbolizes the spirit. In 2010, a surge of reported LGBTQ teen suicides related to anti-LGBTQ bullying inspired then-teenager Brittany McMillian to start Spirit Day. People everywhere are encouraged to wear purple on the third Thursday of October to show support for LGBTQ youth and demand an end to bullying during National Bullying Prevention Month.
Ending LGBTQ bullying and suicide is no small task. Each of us is responsible for ending the cycle of bullying and suicide. Each of us can confront bullies in our daily lives. Our legal protections, our future, and our youth require our active efforts to ensure their safety. It’s our job to stand on the front lines for youth today, so they may grow up, live full and healthy lives, and together we can pursue Justice with Joy.
With Pride, Fernando Zweifach López Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs Executive Director | San Diego Pride
About San Diego Pride
San Diego Pride raises funds primarily through festival ticket and beverage sales, and through sponsorships, and exhibitor fees. These funds support San Diego Pride’s community philanthropy which has distributed more than $2.5 million in advancement of its mission to foster pride, equality, and respect for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities locally, nationally, and globally.