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Pride and Prejudice

by John Strand | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Editorial | August 14th, 2019

Pride - photograph by Raquel Smith

Thousands of people gathered for Pride Festival in Fargo-Moorhead last weekend. It was absolutely stunning to see and to experience. The Festival truly has become a community event and the inclusion of families gave testimony to how far we’ve come on that front. All this in the only state in the country without even a gay bar!

My, how times have changed.

Though it’s no secret at all that LGBTQ folks do not have anti-discrimination protections here in North Dakota, we can only sense that will change sooner than not.

When the moms and the dads in our broader community speak out for their kids and demand a safe environment for them, the change will finally come and it will be quick. Younger generations today are not hindered or burdened with the same levels of prejudice as previous generations.

Perhaps most noteworthy is the evolving mindset here -- even in these rural parts -- regarding the gay community. The parade was the biggest yet, with dozens of businesses and institutions participating. Ironically, people in the gay community might never have envisioned those businesses ever standing up for gay rights, given the years of closet existence and career risks.

Yes, there is work to do. Obviously. But the accomplishments to date are historic, especially having secured the right to marry. We can’t let this momentum wane, however.

Protections from discrimination in the workplace and in housing are critical needs still. North Dakota can do better.

Continuing advocacy for LGBTQ at-risk groups is essential. We cannot let our people down. No matter the age, sex, religion, ethnicity, disability status, or gender identity, we are all called upon to do our best so that future generations have a better life.

People in the gay community who know firsthand what it feels like to be oppressed or persecuted have lots to offer others who are also at risk and vulnerable. They know what it feels like. They know how painful it can be. They know far too much about how mean and nasty others can get when it comes to relating to others who are simply not the same.

Well, imagine that. People are not all the same. And neither should they be.

While not addressed much publicly, a very big challenge for people who have been the recipient of prejudice or discrimination is to NOT pass it on to others when given the chance. It’s no secret that human nature simply replicates what has been experienced. Life moments teach and instruct future behavior.

When and if people who’ve been oppressed get opportunities to perpetuate the behavior they’ve learned through time, it’s an important and defining moment. Do they do to others what’s been done to them, or do they break the cycle and love unconditionally?

It’s all about pride. Sense of self. Confidence. Belonging and being loved.

Prejudice is the anathema of all that. It’s the destroyer, the debilitator. It’s the fuel for hate and is based on ignorance, plain and simple.

Fargo-Moorhead’s Pride Festival raised the bar and set a new standard going forward. Our community was positively reflected in countless ways. The people are rising to the occasion. Showing up. Being counted. Standing up for what’s right and what’s good for our people, for ALL our people.

Now it is incumbent on us to keep this going and to similarly stand up for anyone -- no, for everyone -- who is at risk in our broader community.

And, finally, as for N.D. standing out for not having a gay bar, let’s take that one step further also. How about ND becomes the first state in the country that does not need a gay bar!

Good work everyone. Thanks for making Pride a visible and palpable priority for all of us, and for doing it in such a delightful and colorful way.

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