As Pride Month comes to an end, activists for LGBTQ rights around the world reflect on their progress towards equality.
50 years ago, the Stonewall Riots in New York City ignited the modern LGBTQ rights movement as we know it. Today, June is still widely recognized as Pride Month. Around the world, members of the LGBTQ community organize protests and parades to inspire resilience, foster hope, and celebrate progress. As Pride Month draws to a close, these local champions for LGBTQ rights share their successes.
Wylie Yeo, Hong Kong Pride Parade
Like many cities around the world, Hong Kong has no legal protection against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. By hosting an annual celebration, Hong Kong Pride Parade fosters an inclusive society where people who identify as LGBTQ can experience safety and equality.
“Being the only city in China that is still able to have a lawful parade, we have strived to increase visibility, to build solidarity, and to empower participants while they exercise freedom of expression during the march ever since our first Pride Parade in 2008,” says Wylie Yeo, director of the Hong Kong Pride Parade.
Wylie can attest to the impact the parade has had on attitudes in Hong Kong: “We see the society now leans toward acceptance. We have grown from 1,000 participants to 12,000, and from being rejected to rent a bus for the parade to having advertisements in metro stations. Being able to hold a pride parade in Hong Kong is what makes us proud.”
In the United States, 4 in 10 LGBTQ youth say they live in a community which isn’t accepting of their true identity. True Colors, a nonprofit based in Connecticut, saves lives and builds understanding through advocacy, education, and direct service to LGBTQ youth and their caregivers.
“Last year, True Colors served over 12,000 LGBTQ+ youth, families, educators, and allies. But, our successes are measured one person at a time,” explains Executive Director Robin McHaelen.
True Colors has touched people in the LGBTQ community in an incredible variety of ways. “J* was a gender fluid 11-year old who was failing in school and in trouble at home. His True Colors mentors walked this difficult road with him. Last year he graduated from high school.”
Robin also shared that working with the LGBTQ community can be only half the battle. “We spent the afternoon with a frantic mom whose 11-year-old daughter came out as bisexual, “Thank you! Talking with you helped. I feel so much less scared.” By offering support for families and allies, True Colors helps to build an inclusive community where youth who identify as LGBTQ can flourish.
Real Raymond, Founder, Mbarara Rise Foundation In Uganda
According to a survey conducted by the Mbarara Rise Foundation, more than 70% of members of the LGBTQ community in Uganda have faced arrest, police brutality, or eviction due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. They’re working to change this statistic by offering people who identify as LGBTQ safety training for both daily life and online activity.
“Our Safety and Security Project is making a big impact. In December 2017, we documented 18 insecurity cases under the Gender-Based Violence program, compared to December 2018 when we only documented four insecurity cases,” reports Real Raymond, Mbarara Rise Foundation’s founder and executive director.
The goal of the project is to educate 120 members of the LGBTQ community. Real shares that, so far, “80 rural LGBTQ persons have successfully been able to acquire knowledge, information, and skills which have enabled safety and reducing insecurities in rural Uganda.”
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