Why Pride Matters to Us…and to Me
Last month marked Pride month, the time of year when we all celebrate our LGBTQ brethren and honor those who came before us and fought so hard for our rights. But what is the significance of Pride month today? And why do we still need to celebrate Pride month? After all, LGBTQ acceptance is at a historically high level now. There are LGBTQ people all over the place now. In sports; in politics; on our TV screens and movie theatres; in our books. And marriage equality is now the law of the land and has been for a few years now. So why do we still need Pride month?
I’d like to start with a bit of a personal story if you’re willing to indulge me. I grew up in Texas. Texas is known for a few things: guns; college football and Republicans. It is no secret that Texas is deeply conservative and that the GOP has a stranglehold on the state (although I’m pleased to see that things are starting to change there). I grew up in one of the more conservative parts of the state. My friends were mostly Southern Baptists. Being gay wasn’t something that was even remotely in the realm of acceptable to them. I remember when Ellen Degeneres came out the reaction among my friends at school was one of shock and a sense of feeling horrified. Like, how could she? Promoting that lifestyle on national TV where children might see it and think that was acceptable?
I didn’t even know what gay was until Ellen came out. And that was when I started to realize that I had similar feelings for boys as Ellen did for girls. That simply wasn’t acceptable. And I knew that my friends would shun me. So I kept those feelings hidden for over ten years, choosing not to come out until I was in my mid 20s and I realized that I no longer cared about other people’s opinions about it. I needed to live in my truth. And I felt such a sense of freedom when I finally came out. Something I hadn’t felt all those years of being in the closet.
So, I was out finally. But it still took me a couple of years to realize what the significance of Pride was. 50 years ago, a group of trans women of color and gay men started a movement. But at the time, they didn’t recognize the significance of what they were doing. They were just tired of being harassed by the cops and they decided that they weren’t going to take it anymore. So they didn’t. They fought back and got arrested for it. But that night, they sparked a movement, one that would have a ripple effect throughout the generations.
Without the brave efforts of those people, the gay rights movement might never have happened. Pride is about honoring that movement and the brave people who came before us to get us to where we are as a nation. A nation where marriage equality is the law of the land. A nation where an openly gay man can run for President. A nation where LGBTQ people are seemingly everywhere and have prominent roles in many people’s lives. Pride is a celebration of all that we have accomplished in the last 50 years.
And yet, we also know that we still have so far to go. Trans people, particularly trans people of color, continue to be murdered at an alarming rate. Queer people continue to be the victims of hate crimes and discrimination on a daily basis. There are still over 30 states where a queer person can be fired just for coming out of the closet. Marriage equality may still be legal but thanks to a conservative majority on the Supreme Court, that could literally change at any moment. So much of the progress we have made can be lost in an instant or has been lost already. Pride is also a protest as we protest these facts and as we march to remind ourselves that we won’t be silenced and we won’t ever go back to being in the closet.
This is why Pride continues to matter and continues to be needed by our communities. We need to protest and we need to celebrate. We need to honor those who paved the way for us to live freely and also lament that we still are not as free as we should be. Pride is all of these things.
Also, Pride matters because somewhere, there is a closeted gay kid who needs to know that it is ok to be gay. That it is ok to be out. That you can live a successful, happy life out of the closet. One filled with friends and relationships and even family. Pride matters because it validates that person’s identity and celebrates it. It is not about flaunting our sexuality or shoving it in people’s faces. It is not about who we sleep with (or don’t sleep with). It is not for the straight people or the corporations or the police. Pride is for that closeted gay kid in Texas, the one like me. The one who can’t envision a future out of the closet. The one who fears being ostracized from his friends and family because of who he is and who he loves. Pride counteracts that fear and that message. Pride says, you matter. Pride says you belong here. Pride says come and celebrate with us and live into who you are.
I could have never envisioned that I would have the life I have now. 13 year old me thought for sure that coming out would lead to isolation and being alone. Instead, my life is full of friends, community, relationships and fun. All things I never even knew was possible all those years ago. Pride celebrates and affirms all of that. And Pride is a reminder to me of just how far I personally have come in the years since first becoming aware of my own sexuality. Back then, I was ashamed. Now, I’m proud. That’s why Pride matters to me, a queer person from Texas. Why does Pride matter to you?
Written by Tad Hopp, Communications Committee Member
CA Democratic (CADEM) Party State Convention 101
What is CADEM Convention?
The California Democrat State Convention is one of the most important, informative and engaging events of the year. Not only is a great chance to hear from some of the most prominent, influential and progressive voices in the country, it's a wonderful opportunity to connect with other Democrats around the state, gain new skills and ideas through informative training.
What to expect:
Viewing our Statewide Organizing Convention within a larger context will help you better prepare for and utilize the opportunities convention weekend brings. We aim to make the Convention an event that strengthens your effectiveness as an organizer and advocate. Democrats from all over California will attend to introduce party resolutions, engage in caucuses, network, hear from party candidates, and enjoy a number of events.
The California Democrat State Convention is one of the most important, informative and engaging events of the year. Not only is a great chance to hear from some of the most prominent, influential and progressive voices in the country, it's a wonderful opportunity to connect with other Democrats around the state, gain new skills and ideas through informative training. Further, the state convention is held twice a year, once in Southern California and the other in Northern California, thereby making the convention more accessible for attendees.
Our semi-annual convention is a unique opportunity because:
It is the largest gathering Democratic Activists from around the state
A large number of Democratic and Legislative leaders are present and accessible
Phenomenal networking opportunities are available at the various meetings, receptions, workshops and hospitality events. Very often, Delegates will have a large number of events (caucus meetings, hospitality suites, delegation breakfasts, etc.)
Pick a few clear, realistic, and strategic convention goals, for instance: network with folks from another part of the state who are organizing around a similar issue in order to share best practices, take advantage of particular training so that you can bring it home and share it with your home team, or foster a mentor relationship.
Set firm times and locations in advance if there are specific people with whom you would like to spend time; making clear plans for the weekend beforehand increases your efficiency. The Convention is large, and lots of things happen simultaneously. It’s easy to be overwhelmed or become distracted. Plan in advance.
Plan as a team to make sure you get your bases get covered. Have conversations with all of the local Delegates in advance to make sure that of the desired training events, Caucus meetings and networking are covered by at least one person in your group who will be responsible for providing feedback to your group. Remember, it's easy to stretch yourself too thin at such a jam-packed weekend.
Take this opportunity to engage with folks with whom you otherwise wouldn’t have face-to- face time. Remember, this is a large gathering of activists whom you may only see once every year or two. Use this networking opportunity wisely. Step outside of your social comfort zone and use the weekend to build a new alliance, increase your network or discover a different (and perhaps more successful approach) in order to increase your local productivity.
Find out more information by following the links below:
Getting to Know Your Communications Committee Members
Francesca Gallardo is currently serving as the SFYD Communications Chairwoman. She grew up in a predominately Hispanic/Latinx neighborhood and is a descendant of Native American and Mexican heritage. She has experienced first-hand the social inequities that affect communities of color across the United States. Her experience influenced her own socio-political work to improve the lives of other minorities and become an advocate for equitable change.
She recently received an M.A. in Social Science, Environment and Community from Humboldt State University. In addition, Francesca holds a B.F.A in Interior Architecture and Design from the Academy of Art University. She also works as a digital designer for non-profits and progressive politics, as well as utilizing art as a rehabilitative strategy for vulnerable communities.
Furthermore, her experience includes working directly with low-income families, transitional houseless residents, seniors, people with disabilities and special needs, communities of color, and in gender-based violence prevention programs on a national scale. She has collaborated with community-based affordable housing developers on projects to engage with communities, build trust, and develop cultural place-keeping and community building strategies. She has worked on environmental campaigns combating big oil corporations for an international organization. In 2018, Francesca sat on the executive board of the Latina/o Young Democrats of SF, the communications committee for Alliance for Girls, and an active member of the SF Latino Democratic Club. She believes to progressively reform our current system, we as a people, must utilize social and environmental justice models in political decision-making processes. As we work together as a people to achieve environmental, economic, and socio-political justice we must focus on building a resilient and progressive agenda. This is why Francesca decided to dedicate her time and efforts with the San Francisco Young Democrats.
Tad Hopp is a new member of the SFYD Appointed Board, serving on the Communications Committee. Tad grew up in north Texas and never really felt like he fit in as both a gay man and a Democrat (gasp!). He graduated with his Bachelors in English in 2007 and left Texas for the liberal haven of Chicago in 2010. Unfortunately, winter in Chicago is miserable and he soon realized that that just wasn't going to work for him long term. So he moved to the Bay Area in 2011 and has been here ever since.
Tad has long been a political news junkie, constantly keeping up with the latest political commentary and talking/arguing about it with friends. But he didn't really get politically involved until the 2016 election when he was unemployed and thus had a lot of free time to volunteer. So he started volunteering for the Hillary Clinton campaign and realized that he really enjoyed doing this type of political advocacy and engagement. After the 2016 election, he looked for other ways he might be able to get involved and discovered the SFYD. He is excited to be involved with this organization and looks forward to helping get the word out about their events and programs. In his spare time, he likes to knit, hike, read, & run. He also sings with the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus. He is also active on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and so can usually be found checking those sites out.
Lydia Cho was born and raised in Busan, a city in South Korea known for its beautiful beaches and mountains. She came to the United States at age 14 to chase her American dream and previously lived in the greater Philadelphia region. When her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer 6 years ago (thankfully she’s healthy again), Lydia wanted to move closer to her home in South Korea and decided to continue her American education in California where she encountered different Asian American communities for the first time. Lydia was inspired by the Asian American history of San Francisco and became interested in its unique political environment. After graduating from the University of San Francisco with a bachelor’s degree in Politics, she formally worked for the Mayor’s Office Fix-It program, where she worked on various projects concerning the quality of life issues in San Francisco. Lydia is currently pursuing USF’s master’s program in Urban Public Affairs focusing on urban public policies. She is thrilled to be a part of San Francisco Young Democrats and collaborate with the fellow progressive folks who deeply care about the city.