Before I start I would like to thank our leadership for offering SADA’s platform to share such a personal message. I am honored and grateful for the opportunity to launch PRIDE on behalf of the LGTBQ community at SADA, which happened this last Friday during our weekly virtual Town Hall.
That was the task with a week to prepare. I was confident that with a little help from Google Search I could easily pull together the information, create a bright ribbon-cutting presentation, and officially open the festivities. But, this didn’t happen. Not only did I hit a dead-end very early on (not Google’s fault), but it would end up taking me on a very different path, being the most intense, vulnerable, emotional and supportive week of my life. From very early on I was no longer the driver, but the vehicle. This is what this blog is about; a personal journey and message, from the heart, when discovering the origin of PRIDE and what it stands for.
But why such an epic journey?
- Intense: When I realized the Friday Town Hall would be on June 19th, my heart sank. How do I talk about a colorful struggle-turned-celebration when there is a big white elephant in the room? That is, the unconfronted history of systemic racism in this country. Who wants to hear a White South African man, who grew up in Apartheid, on this polarizing day? I certainly can’t talk about Juneteenth and make no attempt, nor try to combine it with the story of PRIDE. I can only lean on my unique experiences as a gay man married to an African American. I have seen discrimination and oppression though different lenses, which I have grappled with throughout my life and on my journey to free myself from Gay discrimination…and Apartheid.
- Vulnerable: It took the unpacking and reflection of 46 years of my life, resurfacing experiences, issues and pains long dealt with, to reach a destination. And then – as a private person – expose it to the world. Vulnerability is the power that gives us courage.
- Emotional: Period!…though, these are very emotional times.
- Supportive: I could not (and should not) do this alone. Thank you to my colleagues, friends and family – ones most impacted by these issues – for your candidness, honesty, advice and love that helped guide me on this journey.
Coming back to the vehicle analogy, I had a few misfires…and things like that. But there was a major one, which was a key statement I did not share late in the presentation. It is my ultimate insight from my experience, and a combination of two pieces of wisdom from my two biggest heroes. So, instead of editing it in, I provide it as a frame for this presentation:
Physical oppression only starts to end when the oppressor’s own mental oppression is freed.
Thank you for your time and listening, and HAPPY PRIDE EVERYONE!
From the heart of a Proud Gay Married Man & SADAian.
- Brenda Howard “Mother of Pride” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brenda_Howard
- SADA’s Core Values
- LGTBQ Discrimination:
- 1969 – Stonewall Riots https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonewall_riots ->
- 2015 – Supreme Court Ruling on Same Sex Marriage in USA https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obergefell v. Hodges
- 1948 – Election of National Party and start of Apartheid law https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apartheid ->
- 1994 – First free elections, Mandela becomes President https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidency_of_Nelson_Mandela
- African American Oppression:
- 1528 – First African slave arrives on American soil https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/slavery
- Abraham Lincoln
- Nelson Mandela “Madiba” (46664 – Nelson’s prison number)
* Self selection from some research and sure there are many more that should be on here.