Celebrating Gay Pride Month important as ever

Readers may have noticed the rainbow across the newspaper’s masthead. It’s in honor of Gay Pride Month, which has renewed relevancy, despite it being eight years since the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry and 13 years since the end of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for the military.

Pride events started in this country and across the world more than 50 years ago because people in the LGBTQ communities were attacked in the streets, banned from congregating together, stereotyped, vilified and forced to live under the constant threat of being fired for their jobs because of who they love and how they identify.

For a few years, it seemed like gay pride had become just another part of the rich and diverse American culture. Wearing the rainbow was as much stylish as political. There was a feeling of acceptance in communities and the media, that the old stereotypes were dissolving from the collective conscience. Characters in TV shows and movies were gay without it being “a thing.” Openly gay people hold high office.

People, and especially students, could just be honest about themselves without explanation or criticism. The rights of gay people were taken for granted. Even the Langley Queer Pride Parade disappeared with little notice.

Then came the backlash in recent years. Initially, the intolerance was focused on transgender people and drag queens, which was more about gender than sexual preference. Apparently some people think there is something wrong with men dressing or acting “like women.” But inevitably, the anger focused on gay people, with the “don’t say gay” policy in Florida schools and recent attacks on Target for putting out its annual gay pride display.

The Oak Harbor School District won’t allow the “Laramie Project,” a play about the murder of a gay student, because officials say it is not age or school appropriate.

As a result, it’s more important than ever to wave the pride flag. Langley is bringing back its pride parade and Coupeville is hosting its first on June 17. In fact, a giant pride flag was recently painted on Front Street in the town.

This newspaper and many other businesses are also reaffirming our support. Expect to see many pride-themed ads this month from businesses that aren’t afraid to show their true colors.

Editorials represent the view of the newspaper’s editorial board.