It's been a pleasure to have spent the last however-many-months planning the inaugural Corning Pride event in partnership with our friends at Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes. The event we wanted to organize to show our LGBTQ+ youth that they are supported and celebrated by their community has grown incredibly fast on facebook: over 500 "yeses," over 1800 "interested," and over 40,000 impressions. Uh-mayzing. Who knows what the actual event will be like, but the response from the community has been more than reassuring. If half of those "yeses" show up, this event will be a huge success! Corning Pride wouldn't be possible without an immense amount of support from so many businesses and organizations (particularly The Rockwell Museum, The ARTS Council, the CMoG, and Spectra at Corning Incorporated), but especially not possible without our LGBTQ+ council members and entertainers.
logo designed by local high school student, Emma Stanton
Planning Pride has felt more important than a lot of other events I [Sarah] have helped plan. Maybe it's the current political situation, maybe it's my empathy on overload, maybe it's whatever Mercury is up to right now. Who knows. For the most part - as a straight, cis, white lady - I've never thought too much about my sexuality. It is what it is, and it's pretty basic. That's not to say that being in this body has always been a positive experience (shout-out to the ER doctor who misdiagnosed my ovarian cysts when I was 17), but I'm lucky. My straight-cis-whiteness affords me a lot of privilege. This is something I've been aware of in the past, but have become hyper aware of whilst planning this event.
However, despite my empathic nature, I just cannot understand the mindset that leads to the level of discrimination, willful ignorance, and hate that we see when it comes to people who are LGBTQ+. I simply don't get it. Who has the energy for that, first of all. But mostly, why? How does this person living as their authentic self hurt you in such a way that you leap to blind hatred? Who taught you that, and how is it helpful? And none of the "reasons" make sense to me. Not the God stuff, not the "family values" stuff, none of it. That's a lot of patriarchal nonsense, and the jerks who sputter in faux disgust know this.
But they've never been made to check their own privilege, these stuttering fools. That's the problem (or at least one of the many).
I'm not necessarily a "lead with love" sort of person. I get mad fast. I defend my views and my people without apology. But it seems the side effect of the hyper empathy I've been experiencing is that I want to show the world - or at least the Corning community - that LGBTQ+ people are just people like anyone else. They don't look or talk a certain way. They're individuals, and they're important. Because they're people. And the fact that any one of them might choose to be open about who they are proves that they're braver than most of us, because a fair number of bumbling jackasses seem to keep making it their mission to spew hate.
And sadly, the fact that any one of them might NOT be able to be open about who they are proves that the rest of us have a lot more work to do. Planning Corning Pride has been super rewarding, but it's just the start of the work I'm willing to put in.
Posted June 6th at 7:38pm