Categories: Guest Editorials

Focus on the multitude of lives we represent — Jackie Biskupski

by Jackie Biskupski, Salt Lake City Mayor

A little less than two years ago I came out. Surrounded by powerful women on the steps of the Capitol, I shared my story of being a survivor of sexual assault — a piece of my history I thought, until that moment, I would not share publicly.

As an openly gay elected official in a conservative state, I am often asked what my greatest challenge has been in getting where I am today. More often than not, my answer tends to surprise the interviewer: being a woman.

And as the mother of two young boys of color, I never forget the awesome responsibility I have to raise them in a society which too often seems determined to hold them back because of the color of their skin.

For me, Pride is a time to remember and reaffirm what activist Audre Lorde once said: “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”

Pride will always be about celebrating and honoring who we are and the common bonds which unite us. But, our commitment to equity demands that Pride must also be a time where we find strength in our differences and in the unique experiences among us.
Over the past year-and-a-half, the LGBTQ+ community has once again felt the sting of hurtful rhetoric and damaging policies designed to undo all we have accomplished. We have learned, as many before us have, that the fight for civil rights is more than a moment, it is a movement.

We have also seen clearly, that those who work to undermine our lives as LGBTQ+ people, do so in an attempt to maintain power and preserve the status-quo. A status-quo which has kept women out of the boardroom and halls of power kept immigrants from opportunity in this country and has kept communities of color in poverty. They work to separate us from each other, to define us as “single-issue” people, because they know together we are a force.

If we are to truly fight against our oppressors, we must fight against the status quo. As LGBTQ+ people — as champions for equality — we have a responsibility to examine our own movement and the way we live our lives to search for opportunities to dismantle this construct. This includes fighting against the casual, and often overt, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and classism which has crept into our community—from dating apps to representation and leadership roles in our community.

The LGBTQ+ community has a unique responsibility to help lead the fight for civil rights. In many ways, for the last decade, the LGBTQ+ rights movement has been synonymous with equality. We have claimed as our own, and even copyrighted, the symbol which will forever be linked to the term.

But, more importantly, ours is a movement of many. We are women, men, and non-binary individuals, we are immigrants and refugees, we are individuals with disabilities, and we are people of every faith, ethnic background, and income level. To truly be successful in protecting our families and ensuring the long-term success of the LGBTQ+ community, it is imperative we focus our movement not on a single-issue, but on the multitude of lives we represent.

As we celebrate Pride, especially during trying political times, let us remember that together we are a force. Let us find strength in our differences and energy in our diversity to not only resist, but to rise. Q



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