As we head into Pride Month, after a historical gathering at the first LGBTQ+ State of the Union, one question remains at the forefront of the LGBTQ+ community in Philadelphia: What’s next?
The Mayor’s Office of LGBT+ Affairs is offering three commitments on how we will continue to fight for an intersectional future and emphasize the livelihood and safety of those who consistently experience marginalization in our community.
First, we recognize that there can be no moving forward without continuing to confront our past. This process must be constant and consistent. We must hold fast to rejecting and renouncing all forms of racism, sexism, transphobia, and ableism that have long been an unchecked pattern among the LGBTQ+ community and, by extension, the city at large.
Second, we must build the foundation of our movement on inclusion, intersection, and radical visibility to better support those we have allowed to be left behind or made invisible. We must refuse the notion that we can progress without recognition and representation of all of who an individual is. People are vast and shimmering spirits filled with complexity, and we must celebrate all facets of that plurality.
Third, we must keep dialogues open and transparent. We will need to foster more community conversations as we build up and move forward from the LGBTQ+ State of the Union. Leadership in the LGBTQ+ community must be grounded in the voices of those who have experienced historical and systemic oppression. There can be no movement without actively listening and engaging with those who have been silenced during our efforts to climb toward liberation.
We must give power to a togetherness that encompasses all of Philadelphia’s diverse LGBTQ+ members and the pride we share.
The Office of LGBT Affairs will continue to fiercely prioritize a future of inclusivity for everyone. We will continue to confront our past, set our foundation in intersectionality, and expand the lines of communication and understanding. We must be committed to doing the work that makes history, regardless of its difficulty or popularity, so one day we can share the reading of our story together.
I hope that you can join the Office of LGBT Affairs for some of the wonderful LGBT Pride Month events our office is hosting this June. Pride Month is an important reminder for our community to love, accept, and fight for one another. Please join us and be out, be loud, and be proud. See you there.
Amber J. Hikes is executive director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs.