In light of the events this past weekend in Orlando, I wanted to take a moment with a heavy heart but with hope in our strong IOA community to reflect on what Pride is about. And I need look no further than to our LGBT Elders to set that example for us all.
For our LGBT seniors, their lives have not been about believing they were safe. Many of them spent years trapped in a closet with the threat of violence, intimidation, and discrimination looming outside the door. And when they came out, it was the ultimate act of courage as they risked losing everything (and I mean everything) in their lives. Threats and bullying were not a single horrifying experience, but a part of everyday life, and jails (both seen and unseen) awaited their arrival. The world did not stand cheering them on in a parade, but instead nodded along and condoned acts of hatred towards them.
And yet, in all of this darkness, our LGBT elders found Pride and showed us how to walk forward. To always reach out to others, even when it is terrifying, because there is someone out there just like you waiting to reach back. To stand up, because you cannot lose when you are fighting for who you are. To yell out in protest until someone listens and the world starts to change to support you and allies line up to stand next to you to make sure you know you are not alone.
Pride is about celebrating (and we will do plenty of that), but let us not forget that it is always most about standing together to be seen, to be heard, and to commit that we will not stop until each and every member of our community is safe. Safe in who we are. Safe in who we love. We stand on the shoulders of these heroes, our LGBT elders, today to walk forward in love and in Pride.
Karyn Skultety, VP of Health Services
It is for this reason, to celebrate this courage, that our LGBT Senior Prom on Saturday, June 18th will continue. We hope to see you there, representing the Pride and strength of our LGBT community.