Fairness WV Executive Director on the start of Pride Month and the challenges we face

Today is the first day of Pride Month, and for too many, it’s a scary and challenging time. We’re dealing with two simultaneous pandemics that threaten our livelihoods: COVID-19 and repeated police violence against Black people.

Although we’ve come to use the month of June to celebrate the diversity of our communities and the many accomplishments of LGBTQ people, we can’t forget how we got here. We have this month because a group of LGBTQ people, led by transgender women of color and lesbians, rebelled against the violence and discrimination they faced more than 50 years ago at the Stonewall bar in New York City. Their bravery and commitment to liberation for LGBTQ people fueled a worldwide call to action.

Photo of activists at the Stonewall riots.

We have transgender women like Marsha P. Johnson, and other people of color, for starting the modern LGBTQ liberation movement.

This Pride Month, I’m challenging you to remember how we got here, roll up your sleeves and get to work. You have a place in this movement. 

Let’s also acknowledge the obvious: voting will not fix all of our problems. But in a time when so many of us feel powerless to change these giant systems of oppression, the voting booth is one place we can all be heard. If our community and its allies don’t use their voices, others will surely speak for us.

We could end up with someone like Tim Armstead on our state’s Supreme Court for the next eight years. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s the former Speaker of the House of Delegates who was the mastermind behind the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a bill we called the license to discriminate bill.

We also can’t forget that our state’s Supreme Court could be the last stop for excessive force lawsuits and qualified immunity cases in instances of police brutality. We need judges who will take those cases seriously and bring about justice. At a time when so many people are rightfully concerned with public health and safety, we can’t lose sight of the primary election, which also happens to be the only election for the Supreme Court. There’s no second chance to get this right — whoever wins next week will hold that seat on the court for eight full years.

We need leaders willing to show us they understand that Black lives matter by having the tough conversations we’ve avoided for far too long. We need leaders willing to stand up to ensure that LGBTQ people are treated with dignity and respect. We need leaders who listen to the needs of the community and respond with compassion and understanding.

And, we need you to vote. If you still haven’t cast your vote, you can vote early — without long lines and large crowds — until June 6. If you plan to vote in-person on election day, June 9, click here to find your polling location.

Yours in Fairness,

Andrew Schneider
Executive Director