June has become a dedicated time to lift up our friends, colleagues, neighbors, and family members who are members of the LGBTQ+ community. It is an opportunity to recognize the obstacles these individuals and groups have overcome, and sadly, it is also an occasion to shine a light on obstacles that remain.
Pride Month began with the Stonewall Riots that followed a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in lower Manhattan, in late June 1969. These riots were a watershed moment of advocacy that continued to be celebrated over the coming years. In 1999, President Clinton officially declared June to be Pride Month.
The past few years have been especially challenging for the LGBTQ+ community and all of us who love them, because fundamental human freedoms are being challenged around the world and in our own nation. These challenges are driven by pernicious ignorance and, sadly, hate.
We know better. As we reflect on what has been accomplished to support LGBTQ+ rights over the past decades, and as we confront efforts to reverse that progress, I encourage each of us to recommit to assuring that all members of our community can fully express their authentic selves and openly love whom they love without fear, without judgement, and without hesitation. We are who we are, and love is love.
We all deserve to express our identities freely and to celebrate the love and care of the partners of our choice fully. For many, this sadly remains a daunting proposition, and one that is being hatefully challenged in many corners of our nation today. It is my hope that we will relegate those challenges to the past.
Our LGBTQ+ neighbors who are out are invaluable role models for our community by being true to themselves and to us. Our student and faculty and staff affinity groups, like GSA, provide opportunities to celebrate and reflect, and they foster joy-filled opportunities for all members of our community to be proud of who they are. I am grateful for their example, and I am so proud of their courage and integrity. Happy Pride Month!