A lot can be said about families. We are born into one that is based on genetics and blood. Born into a family that is supposed to love you unconditionally. However, we know that is not always the truth. As LGBTQ, many of us learn to adopt a family. And this family is then made up of people that are like minded, in many ways. They become our new home. That home offers us a chance to take pride in ourselves and become the person we are meant to be. It also used to extend beyond our families into communities, they became our tribe. We all had similar stories to draw us together. Went through similar hardships. We met these people in the bars we frequented, the local bookstores we supported, and the areas we lived in. These communities offered us strength and support, at large. As technology has grown, those communities closer to home evolved and we lost some of our roots. But is it the same?
In October of 2019, I wrote a post talking about the History of Gay Bars. This post talked about how they were cornerstones of our community. This is where many of us were first introduced to actual gay people. It was a shock and liberating all at the same time. Finally people who understand you. Yes, gay bars have fallen out of favor, as sad as that is. Mostly because we are in this perception that the world has become a more acceptable place and we can now go to any bar and feel relatively safe. This can be true in some places but it doesn’t offer the safety of a place that the clientele is similar to us, can afford. Some part of that is also because bars, much like people, are resilient to change. All things need to evolve with time, so what can those bars do to become more future proofed?
With this election, LGBTQ communities were given another place to be able to vote in safety and without fear of reprisal. Bars in Houston and San Francisco opened their doors as polling places for LGBTQ people. In an election year where so much rides on who take the reigns as the next president, having a place where you can vote and not worry that your gender identity will be an issue, attacked because you are perceived to be of one party or another, or just made to feel that your vote doesn’t matter because of who you sleep with, this is an amazing opportunity.
Buddy’s, and LGBTQ bar in Houston, Texas, decided to become a polling station on Election Day. “Chris Barry, the owner, said “The reception has been overwhelmingly positive… We’re all very excited about the whole process.” Buddy’s is located isn’t he Montrose, gay friendly, neighborhood. The tag line for their Election Day event read “Vote in the front. Party in the back.” Their party consisted of cocktails, of course, karaoke, and drag queens. Because who doesn’t love a drag queen on Election Day. After all, is that why Trump is so popular? The San Francisco Eagle was also allowing voters to cast their ballots at their bar, this was done “under chains hanging from a pitch black ceiling.” I mean I have heard people say that voting can be torture, but I had not clue it fell under S&M, as well.
This becomes more important as the intolerant mindset seems to be growing, yet again, in this country. We are learning quickly that the only way we will have our rights, get our candidates elected, and to live as who we truly are, is to come together as one group and fight.
A prime reason why it is becoming even more important is in light of the Recount video of Melania Trump that was released the week before the election. In the video, Melania says she is shocked that people claim her husband is anti-gay. I realize she has had her head in the clouds during most of their term as president and First Lady, but how can she honestly say her husband was the only president that came into office supporting gay marriage. Point of fact, he has never went on record supporting gay marriage. In fact there are plenty of clips of where he speaks against it and even says he only supports the traditional idea of marriage.
We can also throw in how he banned trans gender people from serving openly in the military and later to serve at all. Let’s not forget that he removed federal protection for transgender students that allowed them to use restrooms that matched their gender identity. Or was it when his administration decided to start denying visas for married same sex partners of UN diplomats? Perhaps it was when his administration decided to propose to allow federally funded housing programs to turn away LGBTQ people? Or rolling back the Obama ruling that prevented healthcare workers from denying care to someone that identified as transgender? Or to top it off, maybe it was when the Trump administration wanted to legally define transgender out of existence. Meaning to say they do not exist.
Since 2016, 133 transgender and gender nonconforming people have been killed. These are only numbers of those that were reported to be transgender or gender nonconforming. It is all too often the case that many of them are misgendered when their stories are released. Let that number sink in, 133 people killed because of who they are. In the twenty years since 2000, it is estimated that approximately 600 LGBTQ people have been killed. Even far more scary is the fact that current laws in place may not show all of the actual murders that affect our community. Laws and reporting methods that are so antiquated that they can really only speak of domestic violence as a man against a woman and hate crime laws that are so full of holes that many do not get reported correctly.
When we were faced with a family that couldn’t accept us for who we are, we left and found our own. When we were raised in a community that thought we were outcasts, we made our own. When we finally decided we wanted rights, we stood up and fought for them. The problem is we have become complacent in the few small victories we have won and thought the fight was coming to an end. Now, more than ever we have to take the fight back for us. No one else is going to give it the attention that it deserves. No one understands what we need, better than ourselves. It is time that we truly realize that Home is where the Pride is.