Hartford Unity & Pride Rally: It’s About Being Able To Be Who We Are

Yours truly, The Divine Miss Bri up close and personal at the Unity and Pride Rally in Hartford

On Sunday, June 11, a diverse group of people representing the LGBTQ community and our supporters gathered on the back steps of the state capitol building in Hartford to stand in solidarity with the main rally in Washington, D.C. Sponsored by Hartford Capital City Pride and CLARO (Connecticut Latinas/os Achieving Rights and Opportunities), this rally provided an opportunity to celebrate who we are and find the inspiration to keep up the fight until all of us everywhere have the right to be who we are.

Standing out there in 90 degree heat Sunday

My sign for the rally!

afternoon, we were both one and many. We recognized how fortunate we are to live in Connecticut, where the LGBTQ community enjoys rights and protections that are rare in other states. But we also know that we have to stay vigilant and engaged to assure that no one can take those rights away. We also have an obligation to fight for the rights of those outside of our state, because it’s vital that we all stand together.

Pastor Louis Mitchell, trans man and activist, speaking at the rally.

Sometimes we tend to lose sight of the fact that the rights we enjoy today did not come easy. They did not come without pain, without sacrifice. From the Stonewall Riots  that occurred 48 years ago this month through the horrors of AIDS to today, pioneers stood up and defied the efforts of so-called “normal” society to make us go away. Now it is up to those of us who have benefited from their sacrifices to move forward to continue the momentum.

I confess that this rally shook me out of my comfort zone

Connecticut Lt. Gov. Nancy S. Wyman speaking at the rally

and made me realize what we need to be fighting for. Unlike many members of the trans community, I have had it very easy. I am surrounded by mostly “straight” friends who accept me as me without reservation. It is a level of caring and acceptance that I wish others could experience. And, therein lies the crux of the message from today. It is up to those of us here and now to keep pushing the boundaries so that others can share what we have — love, acceptance and the freedom to be who we are.

Some of the crowd in attendance at the rally

Yes, we are different … and we’re damned proud of it! We’re all different races, genders, religions, sexual orientations. Hell, we’re a freakin’ rainbow of humanity! However, there is one thing we share with other groups, from women to seniors to the poor, and that’s the fight for equality of treatment, and equality of opportunity. Some fights are too big to stand alone when we can be stronger together.

I am still adjusting to the role of an activist, though I’ve really been pretty open

One of our emcees for the rally! Love that hat!

about being a trans woman, because I want people who’ve never met a trans person to understand that we’re not a threat — we don’t sprinkle stuff in their drinks to make them want to change genders, we don’t molest children (or anyone else) and we just want the right to be who we are.

It was inspiring to be a part of today’s rally which featured so many members of the LGBTQ community, including Pastor Louis Mitchell, a trans man I had met before on several occasions and Hartford Commission on LGBT Issues member Kamora Herrington, as well as our Lt. Governor and the Mayor of Hartford.

Another crowd shot from the rally.

For all my brothers and sisters in the community as well as those who support us, I wish you Peace, Love and Strength to carry on the fight in Unity and Pride!

The Divine Miss Bri

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Standing Together: The CT Rally To Support Trans Youth

We won’t go back! Step by step, we’re moving forward!

For the second very chilly Saturday in a row, I’ve been proud to be able to publicly march and stand with others who share the same ideals. As a transwoman, today’s event was especially personal as I joined a surprisingly large number of people, considering the weather, on the steps of the Connecticut Supreme Court for the CT Rally to Support Trans Youth. It was also great to see some familiar faces from the trans community as well as friends and fellow activists. The sun even poked out for awhile as if to show its support!

Growing up is hard enough as it is, but when you’re a trans youth it becomes all that much harder even if you have support. Unfortunately, too many trans youth lack that support at home, school and the community. Here in Connecticut, the transgender community has far more rights and access to services than most states in this country. Even so, trans youth still face a lot of challenges.

As with many transgendered individuals, the toughest challenge is in accepting yourself. You know inside that there’s a disconnect between the physicality of what you appear to be and the internal truth of who and what you really are. Understanding and accepting who you were really meant to be is absolutely critical to being able to grow and become yourself. If you can find support, even a single person to listen, care and be there for you, you have a fighting chance.

(In my youth, there was no support to be found, so I hid my true self for many years and it almost ended up killing me on numerous occasions. Fortunately, I hung in there and found the support I needed late in life.)

However, beyond self-acceptance lies the minefield of societal acceptance. Here in New England, it’s much better than down South in the Bible Belt. In many places like that, especially, transpeople of all ages are at far higher risk of dying from suicide or being the victims of sexual violence and hate crimes. And that is not right!

Today, we came together to show our support for Trans Youth and draw attention to the need to respect and accept them for who they are and help them realize their potential to achieve whatever they set their minds to doing. That’s how a society progresses, thrives and makes the world a better place for all of us.

I was very proud of the transgender youth who spoke at today’s rally and showed themselves to be filled with heart, pride and courage. They are the future that we all need to embrace and support.

What can you do to help? In CT, contact any of the groups below for more information. Outside of CT, look for local chapters since many of these organizations are national.

ACLU-CT
CT TransAdvocacy Coalition
GLSEN Connecticut
New Haven Pride Center
OutCT
PFLAG Hartford
PFLAG Hampton
Planned Parenthood of Southern New England
Triangle Community Center
True Colors, Inc.

Get involved today, because “Trans Rights Are Everyone’s Rights!!!”

The Divine Miss Bri

 

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