5 Major Ways 2016 Is Still An Incredibly Dangerous Time For LGBTQ Americans
June is officially LGBTQ Pride Month, and while it’s a good time to celebrate all of the progress that America’s made as a country when it comes to LGBTQ equality, there are major ways 2016 is still a dangerous time for LGBTQ people. We’ve been celebrating Pride Month since 1994 (which was an even darker time for sure) thanks to some badass activists demanding awareness. June was picked in particular to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots, which happened on the last weekend in June, which is why that’s the official parade day. The now famous bar in New York City’s West Village is on its way to becoming designated a historical landmark — so yes, the country’s made progress in recognizing the LGBTQ community on an official level.
Sure, official monuments, landmarks, and citywide celebrations are awesome. Even having big organizations, like Google (which has a rainbow theme this month), or the NBA (which launched a rainbow flag t-shirt line) on board is all good stuff. But, it would be a lot better if the players rocked the flag on their uniforms like the NFL does for breast cancer awareness. That’s the thing — it’s still not safe to say out loud, all over the place, and everywhere, at the top of your little lungs that you support LGBTQ rights or even identify as LGBTQ. It’s inching closer, but we have a long-ass way to go.
We Still Haven’t Passed The Equality Act
Last June’s passing of the Marriage Equality Act was a big deal, but discrimination in all sectors of society still persists. The Equality Act would amend the existing one, which already protects race, sex, and age discrimination to define:
- “Sex” to include stereotypes, gender identity, and even pregnancy
- “Sexual orientation” as homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality
- “Gender identity” to acknowledge genders regardless of anyone’s designated sex on their birth certificate
Yo, Hilz — get it done.
Transgender Bathroom Laws Are An Actual Thing
Listen, I will say that even I am surprised at the pace of transgender bathroom laws making it to a federal level, but states are still suing the federal fucking government for saying that schools and public places should let people take a dump wherever they feel comfortable. This is absurd and sad and scary for transgender people.
We Have A Long Way To Go With HIV/AIDs Healthcare
HIV and AIDs is not just an LGBTQ issue, though gay and bisexual men account for 72 percent of all new HIV infections in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control. African American gay and bisexual men are also disproportionately affected, with the rate among the demographic group rising 20 percent from 2008 to 2010.
It is a global, everyone-who-has-sex issue, but the stigma surrounding it as a “gay” problem has been holding up research, funding, and everything that goes into solving the epidemic in America. We are slacking when it comes to promoting awareness about the virus and spreading the good word about PrEP, a preventative medication. Even more, the AIDs Assistance Drug Program (ADAP), which varies state by state to provide healthcare for poor individuals with HIV/AIDs, is constantly in a precarious state, even under the Affordable Care Act.
In addition to all of that, many people still think that HIV and AIDs are the same thing. They aren’t. Get with the vocab.
Marriage Equality Is Still Up For Debate
Much like President Obama’s order for schools to uphold the right for transgender individuals to use bathrooms they identify with, some asshole states are still debating whether or not they have to abide by the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality. Alabama, for example, was just told on Thursday that the state can’t deny same-sex couples marriage certificates. So, good. Fuck you, Alabama (sorry, to all the smart Alabama readers). The fact that states still have the audacity to file injunctions and the courts can’t just say, “Nah, bro,” is troubling. It would be like states saying they won’t accept multi-racial couples from marrying. It’s the law — get over it.
Hate Crimes Are Far Too Common
On top of their rights being in jeopardy, the LGBTQ community is very much still in physical danger because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Although the overall number of hate crimes against LGBTQ individuals has decreased, hate-violence specifically against transgender individuals actually increased 13 percent in 2014, according to a report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. In the same leap from 2013 to 2014, homicides of LGBTQ people increased 11 percent.
So yes, coming out and living as LGBTQ in America a little easier these days, and as country, we have taken some big and small-ish steps to ensuring civil rights for everyone. But we aren’t there yet. When you don a rainbow flag and celebrate this month, remember that we have a long, long, road ahead of us.