My Pride Is More Important than Ever

Two women on a motorcycle in a Pride parade

By the time this gets published, LGBT Pride month will be coming to a close or have already ended, but I thought I would share a few thoughts about it anyway. Prior to my job here at WSBA, I worked on several college campuses, leading LGBT centers. Often I was asked why it was necessary for me and the students I worked with to be “so out” and “so loud” about our identities. “Shouldn’t your sexual orientation not matter?” they would say. I’d answer “correct” — sexual orientation and gender identity shouldn’t matter, but in our society they did. And they still do matter.

Prior to legalization of same-sex unions, my students and I were denied a whole slew of rights afforded to everyone in heterosexual relationships. Even now, with marriage equality the national norm, I still experience regular discrimination, exclusion, and heterosexism. So I agree; in an ideal world my sexual orientation or gender identity wouldn’t matter, but they do.

So why do we need to be out, loud, and proud? At a time when LGBT kids are four times more likely to attempt suicide and 40% of homeless youth are LGBT, I feel a need to be a role model, to let the world know that I and many others are LGBT-identified and we can be successful. We can experience love, and we can survive the homophobia and heterosexism we face every day. (We shouldn’t have to face it, but we do.) I need for those kids who face bullying and harassment, parental rejection, or conversion therapy to understand there are others out there like them, that they are good and valued, and they deserve a life rich with acceptance and love.

I need those who aren’t a part of the LGBT community to see that LGBT people are all around them, scanning their groceries, fixing their cars, providing medical care, governing their cities, and raising their children. I need them to know that we’re not only fellow community members with whom they interact with every day; we’re part of their families too.

With visibility comes recognition. With recognition come rights. With rights come justice and healing. When we get to that ideal world, the one where my sexual orientation and gender identity don’t matter, I will stop screaming it from the rooftops, but for now, I will continue to be out, loud, and proud.

12 thoughts on “My Pride Is More Important than Ever

  1. Ann

    Ms. Vogel, I’d be curious to know how my comments in any way discriminate against you such that they justify Dr. Nussbaum’s threat to permanently “scream from rooftops.”

    My comments had to do almost entirely with a statistical claim made by Dr. Nussbaum (now acknowledged to have been printed in error). And surely both you and she should be happy to learn the plight of LGBT youth is not quite as dire as she had cast it.

    Or was it the aside suggesting that “screaming from the rooftops” until nirvana is attained could become quite annoying? Being annoyed by the perpetual persistence of an argument does not necessarily imply opposition to it.

  2. Inez Petersen

    Dear Robin and Ruth, I don’t want to waste “a month of Sundays” to hear about discrimination that occurred in the “dark ages.” We are now an enlightened society with laws that protect the rights of gays. Instead of being a “broken record” about past discrimination, could we just move forward on equal footing, letting sexual preference fall into the shadows as an unworthy basis for separating us? That would go more toward producing the unity we seek than “screaming from the rooftops.” That was the point I had tried to convey with my prior comment.

  3. Edward Hiskes

    Dear Ruth –

    Did I discriminate against you? If not, then do not lump me into a group for adverse characterization …. which is what Robin does when she trashes “older,white, males”. This is nothing more than a plea for fairness and simple common sense.

    Edward Hiskes

  4. Ruth Emily Vogel

    My goodness, Inez, Edward and Ann need to take a chill pill! I’m at 62 year old attorney who has practiced law for thirty years and been ‘out’ for forty. It would take a month of Sundays to tell you all the discrimination I’ve faced, and I’ve been quite lucky! If you really want to know the reality of being a GLBT, etc. attorney then ask one.

    I applaud Robin for her article and find the response (to date) to be self-evident of the need for more of the same.

  5. Edward Hiskes

    “So I agree, in an ideal world, my sexual orientation or gender identity wouldn’t matter, but in reality they currently do.(and therefore increased cost to the client), loss of money and identity, ethical sanctions, and embarrassment or worse in the courtroom.”

    The foregoing text is no longer in the article. If the author edited it out, that is a good thing. That language looked like a weak attempt to link the authors social activist activities to something that the WSBA could justify financing. If there is no particular link to the practice of law, the WSBA should not be paying for it.

  6. Ann

    Well, that leaves only the fact that the ONE study on which this stat is based was structurally biased since it SELECTED agencies that cater to LGBT youth to sample, provided no data about the methodology for making sure the agencies that chose to respond were representative of agencies serving homeless in general, was of limited scope and was scientifically all but meaningless. But thanks for nudging this outlandish claim just a tiny bit closer to reality.

  7. WSBA

    Correction: The writer stated “40% of homeless youth are LGBT.” That was an editing error. Apologies.

  8. Edward Hiskes

    As quoted by Inez Petersen, above, the author links the LGBTQ cause in general to concerns of lawyers with the following sentence:

    “So I agree, in an ideal world, my sexual orientation or gender identity wouldn’t matter, but in reality they currently do.(and therefore increased cost to the client), loss of money and identity, ethical sanctions, and embarrassment or worse in the courtroom.”

    Can the author cite names and dates for “ethical sanctions” involving WSBA members, related to sexual status? These would provide useful insight into the problem.

  9. Ann

    40% of LGBT youth are homeless? No.

    One study, with zero data provided that would allow validity to be judged, that surveyed a small list of agencies partly selected because they focused specifically on providing services to LGBT homeless youth, found unsurprisingly that 40% of the survey respondent agencies’ clientele were LGBT.

    Even if that could be extrapolated to all homeless youth, which it can’t, it would at best establish that 40% of homeless youth were LGBT, not that 40% of LGBT youth were homeless. 99% of koalas may be Australian, but that doesn’t mean that 99% of Australians are koalas.

    I’m pretty sure the suicide statistic cited here is equally disingenuous, but it’s too discouraging to wade through what passes for social “science” these days to look into it.

    Meanwhile, if we have to keep hearing people yammer on and on about their sexual orientations and identities (which is about as interesting as fingernails on a chalkboard) until we attain perfect “justice and healing” we may all need suicide prevention services.

  10. Inez P Petersen

    Why must the sexual preferences of a few members permeate Bar publications? Gay rights are secured in the law, now let it rest. Just as the unnamed author stated, sexual orientation or gender identity shouldn’t matter; I know it doesn’t matter to me. You don’t care that I’m celibate, and I don’t care if you aren’t. This is a private matter, not a reason to create a separate bar association.

    The unnamed author stated, “Even now, with marriage equality the national norm, I still have regular occurrences of discrimination, exclusion, and heterosexism.” I find this hard to believe i this enlightened society. Where are her facts and data supporting this?

    The unnamed writer may need me to look at the people around me who are “scanning their groceries, fixing their cars, providing medical care,” etc., and make a judgment as to whether those persons are gay or not.

    But I don’t need to do that. I chose not to make the discriminatory distinctions this writer is asking me to make. It is the author who sets herself apart by “screaming it from the rooftops,” not me. I’m ready for this mantra of victimhood to cease.

  11. Edward V. Hiskes

    The author states “Even now, with marriage equality the national norm, I still experience regular discrimination, exclusion, and heterosexism.”

    I would be grateful to the author for some examples and discussion of how much this is happening, particularly within the legal community. I would also appreciate hearing the author’s views about the beneficial or adverse effects of appointing at-large members to the Board of Governors to represent minorities versus merely relying upon member electons. Are LGBTQ interests being adequately represented in the appointments? How can we evaluate the success of this approach?

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