By Katy Heitstuman, ACLU of Montana
The colors of the rainbow were out in force this weekend for the annual Pride celebration.
And this year, like every year, was a wonderful mix of celebration, support and renewed commitment to activism.
The Bozeman community came out to support their LGBT neighbors, friends and families by the hundreds, and the noise makers we handed out to the crowed produced an almost deafening roar throughout the afternoon.
Pride is always a good time; it is hard not to enjoy an event that combines the irresistible joy of Lady Gaga music, glitter, bright colors and even brighter people. The celebration aspect of Pride is incredibly important, but fun, isn't all that Pride is about. It is about reaffirming, publicly, our commitment to advancing the rights and protections of LGBT people in our communities.
The speakers at the rally afterwards were consistent in their message of hope; a lot of good things have happened this year for LGBT people. President Obama made clear his stance of support for gay marriage, DOMA has lost lawsuits at almost every court level, New York passed a gay marriage law, and JC Penny came out in support of Ellen DeGeneres as their spokesperson even after a boycott was organized. On a local level, Missoula passed a non-discrimination ordinance, and a similar ordinance is working its way through the Helena City Council. Pride is about making sure these wins continue, and that the losses, and there were quite a few, don't drag down the movement.
Pride is about coming together as a community to make sure that every member knows that they are valued and they are wanted. It is about preventing the suicides of gay teens, ending bullying at every age, protecting LGBT families so that they don't have to fear separation, and most importantly about sending a message to the larger community that those who want to discriminate against LGBT people are a minority, and their voices won't carry the day.