Once again it is time to celebrate the diversity of all people here in the Adirondack North Country. In the past two years we’ve seen an outpouring of hate, attempts at overt discrimination, and attempts to roll back human rights protections on the federal level.
We are facing a potential crisis in a U.S. Supreme Court poised to overturn settled law in the areas of women’s health, abortion, marriage equality, and LGBTQI civil rights protections. We’ve seen attempts to ban members of the transgender community from serving openly in the military as well as prohibiting their use of public accommodations. We’ve seen the lies and fear mongering of homophobic and transphobic hate groups bent on the elimination of trans people from society.
Leadership of the New York State Senate, for the 16th straight year, refuses to bring the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) out of committee to the floor of the Senate to discuss or vote on the bill. The State Assembly has passed the same bill for 11 consecutive years!
Rather than focusing on the negatives however, we need to find ways to come together to promote diversity, unity, peace, acceptance and understanding with our neighbors. This week marks Adirondack Pride week here in the North Country.
Why is LGBTQI Pride important? It allows marginalized people to live their lives according who they know themselves to be – even if that falls outside traditional heterosexual, cis-gendered normative culture. (Cis-gender people identify as the gender they were assigned at birth.)
Participating in LGBTQI Pride allows us to come together to build community with others who share our common beliefs that human sexuality and gender identity exist on a fluid continuum of biological possibilities rather than only two fixed standard points of self-identification.
Pride celebrations are a way to honor those who came before us who fought for the right to express their love towards another person on their own terms rather than as society dictates. It allows us to show our young people that they are perfect just as they are. Many people erroneously believe that being LGBTQI is a choice we make, rather than a matter of biology. With the proper guidance many believe, this “malady” can be “cured” or “corrected.”
LGBTQI people exist through all times in our human history, in every country and continent in the world. Many of the greatest figures in human history are thought to have been LGBTQI. This history is not taught in our schools, which suppress contributions made by members of the LGBTQI community in favor of traditional cis-gender, hetero-normative cultural values.
While traditionally held in Plattsburgh, NY, this family friendly event is a time set apart to celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bi/Pan Sexual, Transgender, Gender Queer/Non-Binary and Intersex people. We welcome the diversity of all people here in our area. It is a time to come out and celebrate what makes each of us special and unique regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, physical or mental abilities, race or ethnic background, religious beliefs that may not be in line with the majority of the population. It is a time to celebrate the diversity of life that each of us represents as we all seek to live our true and authentic lives. We seek to put hate and division behind us, to rejoice in the life we are given and to make the most of living every.
This year marks the third anniversary of Adirondack North Country Pride in Plattsburgh hosted by the Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance. Our Keynote speaker is Juli Grey-Owens, Executive Director of Gender Equality NY, a statewide transgender, non-binary and intersex advocacy organization with members across New York State.
The Pride festival will begin in Trinity Park at noon with speakers from the area on the importance of LGBTQI Pride and diversity in the North Country. The march this year will be centered on downtown Plattsburgh in an effort to highlight and promote downtown merchants. We will have area organizations tabling to provide information and resources on the services they provide to people here in the North Country. There will be music and of course a wonderful drag troupe not to be missed.
New this year will be forum discussion open to the community entitled, “Everything You Wanted to Know About Being LGBTQI… and the issues facing our communities!” The event will take place on Friday, September 28, 2018 at the Angel College Center’s Cardinal Lounge at SUNY Plattsburgh from 7 to 9 pm. The overarching goal of the forum is to further the understanding and respect for LGBTQI New Yorkers and to decrease incidents of discrimination and violence. Through this discussion, we seek to influence the general public’s social attitudes, gain allies, and establish our community’s presence across New York State. This event is co-sponsored by the SUNY Plattsburgh Gender and Women’s Studies Program, Gender Equality NY and Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance. All are welcome. Bring your questions – We’ve heard it all. Let’s talk!
Let us be Adirondack Proud and North Country strong as we show our combined strength in ending bullying, harassment, hate, bigotry, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia.
We welcome everyone in the Adirondack North Country community to come celebrate diversity, inclusion, acceptance and understanding of the differences of what makes each of us the special, unique and wonderful people we are.
Kelly Metzgar is Executive Director of the Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance.