Year-round Pride

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June, which includes the anniversary of the Stonewall riots in 1969, is the traditional month to celebrate LGBT Pride. This year many things are boosting the spirit of our celebrations, from the growing acceptance of marriage equality to the increasing numbers of LGBT celebrities coming out of the closet.

I get caught up in the excitement each June and sometimes wish that the spirit of the festivities could be extended throughout the year. Of course, there are many ways it can, so here are some suggestions.

Come out and stay out. During Pride season, many of us don pink triangles, rainbow beads and other gay symbols, but how about showing Pride the whole year long? Wear your “colors” to work or church or non-gay community events.

Do it just to be a presence or to get a conversation going. When gay topics come up at work or elsewhere, be honest about who you are and how you feel. Polls show that people who know someone who is LGBT are more supportive of our rights. This is the simplest way to help change the world.

Get involved in community organizations. There are dozens of LGBT groups to join, whether your interest is sports, religion, dining, political organizing, books, dancing, music, biking, pets, history or cars. It’s a great way to meet people with similar interests and to share your skills with the community. If you don’t have the time to get involved, send a donation to a group you admire to help sustain it.

Be a mentor. A really nice way to become engaged in your community and give something back is to mentor a younger LGBT person who needs support and guidance. For mentoring opportunities in Milwaukee, call the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center at 414-271-2656 or Pathfinders at 414-271-1560.

Get politically active. Scott Walker’s victory in the recall election means we face another three years of an anti-LGBT administration in Wisconsin. He and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch not only oppose marriage equality, they’d like to see the domestic partner registry axed. Most Republicans in the Legislature have the same anti-gay bias.

Instead of feeling discouraged by the recent election, get motivated! Educate yourself about who represents you on the local and state levels. Find out their positions and work either to support them or to oust them.

Tammy Baldwin’s U.S. Senate candidacy is an important reason to get involved in politics this year. Baldwin has been an outstanding public servant since her days on the Dane County Board in the 1980s. She served in the State Assembly before being elected to Congress in 1998.

Pro-gay, pro-labor, pro-environment and vociferously anti-war, Baldwin will be a staunch progressive voice for Wisconsin. She’s apt to be slimed as a lesbian and “too liberal,” so join the ranks of those pushing back and informing the public about her excellent record of service.

Study LGBT history and culture. The Web has made learning about our history and culture both easy and immediate. You can Google anything, but start by checking out history sites such as www.mkelgbthist.org or archives.library.wisc.edu/oral-history/CampusVoices/LGBT/index.html.

Make LGBT history. Don’t be content with just reading about our history, create some of your own! Getting involved in any of the ways mentioned above will let your pride shine year round and make you an active participant in our ongoing history.