We are living in an unprecedented time. Reflecting on the past sixteen months, we have seen the best of ourselves and the worst. In the face of a devastating global pandemic, we have seen new types of heroes show us what it looks like to step up and give more than what’s been expected of you. Frontline workers in hospitals and clinics attending to the needs of those in their community fighting for their lives. Teachers becoming masters of technology—and new ways of engaging with their students—as they communicated the reading, writing and math skills so necessary to them. Local, state, and federal leadership working with experts in the healthcare and infectious disease experts making the decisions needed to keep our communities safe.
We’ve also seen society at its worst. Clashes in our towns, neighbor against neighbor, as racial conflict and division turned violent. Flouting science and endangering the health and lives of others to avoid minor personal inconvenience. And inexcusable, divisive actions taken by some state and local governments in attempts to deny Americans their right to vote and have their voices heard.
We all watched this, experiencing the best and worst of who we are as a society, largely isolated and largely via our screens. And despite all the challenges we’ve faced, I have seen something that makes me extra proud this June. I have seen a general care and concern shown to people. Groups of people who, in the past, might not ever have needed the chance to have their lives interact. Whether it was the diversity of those protesting for the rights of all in the summer of 2020 or those volunteering in vaccine clinics and helping register people to vote in their communities. There has been a clear and present sign throughout this time that each of us has the right and responsibility to stand up and to do the right thing—and we’re doing it. For vulnerable people under attack, I’ve seen people stand up. For those whose voices couldn’t be heard alone, I’ve seen people speak up. And when there was injustice and acts of unspeakable violence shown to one person, I’ve seen people rise up.
Now in the midst of PRIDE Month, I think about how the LGBTQ+ community has faced these same kinds of challenges for decades. And how people from outside the community have also stepped up at crucial moments, offering their support. So this year, as we celebrate PRIDE, it feels like the pride is bigger. The need for change, bigger. The need to come together, no matter what our race, color, national origin, religion or gender identity, is bigger. The PRIDE I’ve seen has spilled out, taking on the bigger injustices and challenges, impacting more than just our LGBTQ+ community.
This year, I believe PRIDE is now more for everyone than it has ever been—and a celebration that I hope continues throughout the years.