By Fernando Z. Lopez
There is so much at risk for our community in the next year, but I have hope.
I’m here today in San Diego with our Pride organizers and LGBTQ human rights activists from all around the world as we host the InterPride World Conference. It’s incredible to think that it all started with a few resources, hope, a will to support one another, and a list made by San Diego Pride board member, Doug Moore. Never underestimate the power of a list!
In 2008, our community faced off against anti-LGBTQ extremists on the battleground of a ballot measure, Prop 8, that stripped our access to marriage equality. Tired, trite, and reprehensible lies and misinformation were spread about our community. We and our allies experienced a backlash of hate crimes. We had fewer LGBTQ-focused resources and organizations then, and the Prop 8 campaign was predominantly only active in three cities. We lost that fight.
That loss didn’t stop our movement. It enraged and fueled us. All across California we formed new nonprofits, continued field organizing, and earned media campaigns. We built coalitions and leaned into intersectional capacity building. We grew stronger.
Next year in California, we will be facing one, if not two, ballot measures on LGBTQ rights.
We are just one Supreme Court ruling away from losing the freedom to marry again in California. That is why in the general election a year from now we will be voting on our rights. There will be a ballot initiative to codify marriage equality in law.
We also know that transgender youth rights are under siege across the country. Here in California 4 anti-trans youth initiatives are looming that threaten the dignity, privacy, and safety of our children. These initiatives could force schools to out trans students to unsupportive families, putting their lives and safety at risk.
Now is the time to use all we have learned and all we have built. Now is not the time to bend, bow, or break, in the face of bullies.
Here in San Diego, since 2008, we have built newer and stronger intersectional coalitions. Our region’s CLC LGBTQ Youth Services and Advocacy Committee, the Black LGBTQ Coalition, the Latine LGBTQ Coalition, Queer APIMEDA Coalition, the DevOUT LGBTQ Interfaith Coalition, the Disabled LGBTQ+ Coalition, and Strong Hearted Native Women’s Coalition will all need to engage in the fight ahead if we are to protect our marriage rights and our transgender youth.
In 2008 I can’t tell you how many times I was told we didn’t need to worry, and people didn’t want to volunteer because they thought California was so liberal, we’d be safe. A better future is only possible if we engage directly in our democracy. We can not rest. We can not retreat. One thing I know about our community is that we are relentless, and if we work diligently, we can build a future where all of us can Thrive!
Fernando Z. López
San Diego Pride