Freedom Oklahoma Celebrates LGBTQ+ History Month
October kicks off LGBTQ history month and at Freedom Oklahoma, we’re celebrating by looking to our past to inform and inspire our future. This month is an opportunity to reflect on the indispensable role LGBTQ Americans have played in creating the nation we inhabit today. Since its inception in 1994, LGBT History Month has provided an opportunity to celebrate these contributions but also reminds us of the wide gap between LGBTQ rights today and the true lived equality for which our community continues to fight.
Nowhere in this nation is that contrast starker than in conservative states like Oklahoma. With no comprehensive statewide non-discrimination protections and an onslaught of legislation designed to harm our community filed nearly annually at the State Legislature, we know we have a long way to go to create a world in which LGBTQ Oklahomans can truly thrive.
And yet, we’ve come so far. And for that, we celebrate.
It was not so long ago that our heroes at Angles Bar declared before the public that enough is enough, that police raids plaguing our communities must stop. It wasn’t so long ago that folks like Scott Wilson and Paul Thompson took their claims to court and secured victories that would change the course of Oklahoma’s queer history for generations to come.
It wasn’t so long ago that homosexuality was a crime across this nation, that marriage equality seemed an impossibility, that the KKK counter protested the first Oklahoma City Pride. It wasn’t so long ago that simply leaving the house each morning was an incredible act of courage. We are forever indebted to those who lived in a world that hated them, shamed them, taught them to be afraid, who stood up and said “here I am,” anyway. Their bravery paved the way for us. Their courage allows us to stand where we are today. Their tenacity propels us forward toward building a world in which our communities of color, our transgender and nonbinary communities, our rural queers, no longer live under the fear that was once the norm for us all and remains today a reality for too many.
To the activists who marched that first pride, to those who showed up at the second, to the Oklahoma heroes who rather than accept the abuse they were being handed, marched instead to a lawyers office to demand what was theirs, to Paula Sophia and Elysabeth Britt, who refused to play by society’s discriminatory rules and ran for office as trans women, to the founding members of Oklahomans for Equality, of the Cimarron Alliance, to Jim Roth, to Kay Floyd, to James Cooper, to the brave humans who continue to step out of their house every single day when simply existing with authenticity is activism, and to Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and every single human who fought back that now-infamous night 50 years ago at the Stonewall Inn, who stood for the dignity and safety of us all, and in doing so sparked the movement that has changed so many lives--thank you.
You are heroes, you are the giants whose shoulders we stand on. You brought us to this moment. You disobeyed society, you disobeyed your government, you cast fear to the wind and you put your lives on the line with the vague promise that if you did so you *might* have the smallest chance of creating a better world.
We celebrate you this month and every month. And we honor you by building on your legacy. You brought us so far, but we know we are not done. We promise not to stop until we are. Happy LGBTQ History Month to each and every one of you. Let’s us always remember and let us always strive for more.