Patricia A. O'Malley

Social Policy & Programs Consulting

Training and Services for agencies working toward social and economic justice

Why Do They Need a Parade?
Happy LGBTQ Pride Month
June 20, 2019


I attended Pittsburgh’s Pride Parade with my husband on June 8.  Mayor Bill Peduto said it was our biggest Pride parade ever, and second in the city only to the Labor Day Parade.  He’s wrong.  Pride overwhelmed Labor.  It was at least twice the size of recent Labor Day marches.  But that’s another story.

It was a joyous occasion.  Everyone was smiling, happy, and friendly.   As I watched the 

parade, I cried for my brother, Marty, who died of AIDS on March 23, 1993.  He would

have enjoyed it.  Love and miss you, Marty.

And yet, some folks still ask “Why do they need a parade?”

In 1970, a young gay man in San Francisco hung himself inside a closet. 

He couldn't face his mother because she disapproved of him. 

Harvey Milk was the man’s friend, a member of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors (city council), and the first openly gay elected official in California.   He arranged the parade so that people no longer had to hide who they were.  He said it was time to come "out of the closet and into the street."  Let the public see their neighbors, teachers,  mail carriers, bankers, store clerks, and others that they know personally.  He said  that "when they find out that they know one of us, they more willing to accept  all of us."  And it worked.

At that parade, they honored that young man and all gay people throughout the United States, especially those attacked by rioting police at the Stonewall bar on June 28, 1969 - 50 years ago this month.  New York welcomed its first Pride parade that year too.

They parade to show that they don't want to hide who they are, that they're fed up with the bigots who persecute and murder them.

You probably never had to worry about that.  If you’re heterosexual, you’re free to marry anyone you choose. 

No one ever dragged you out of a car and beat you to death.  No one ever beat you, tied you to a fence,  and left you for dead just because they don't "approve" of you.

Harvey White and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were murdered by politician Dan White in 1978.  Tens of thousands of people held a spontaneous silent candlelight march to city hall in his honor. After the murder, San Francisco city council president Dianne Feinstein became mayor of San Francisco, and later, US Senator from California, where she still serves.

So what’s the big deal? 

On June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does protect the right of same-sex couples to marry, just as it protects the marriage rights of opposite-sex couples.   But that applies only to marriage.

There’s still a long way to go:

  • The 1964 federal Civil Rights Act and subsequent laws prohibit businesses from discriminating against customers and employees because of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, veteran status, and age over 40.  Federal law does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. 

  • According to the Human Rights Campaign’s 2018 State Equality Index:
    -  Almost half the states and the District of Columbia have laws that currently prohibit sexual orientation discrimination       in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, adoption, and foster care.

      Ten or more permit discrimination in insurance, credit, and jury selection.   

    -  In about thirty states, any business can still fire you from a job for your sexual orientation, whether you have a               marriage License or not.

Despite what many people believe, any business can deny you a job or service anywhere for being married, unmarried, tall, left-handed, a Democrat, a Republican, or wearing blue socks.
Heterosexuals never have to worry about losing a job, home, hotel room, or school because of their sexual identity. 
Nevertheless, many are angry that “they get everything”.
I don’t get that logic. 

When someone else has more rights, it doesn’t mean that you get fewer.   It’s not pie.

And just maybe, all of this activity, camaraderie, and familiarity will generate more inclusivity.

That’s why straight people don’t need a pride parade.

For More Information
Read the Constitution
Harvey Milk Foundation
Senator Dianne Feinstein
Matthew Shepard Foundation
Human Rights Campaign:  State Equality Index
Marriage Equality:  Myths and Facts

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Patricia A. O'Malley
Social Policy & Programs Consulting    ~    Community Matters
P.O. Box 97803    ~    Pittsburgh, PA  15227   ~    412-310-4886    ~
Copyright Patricia A. O'Malley    ~    All rights reserved
Established 1993