By Erik Bottcher
The LGBTQ community is as vastly diverse as humanity itself. Like a brilliant rainbow, we occupy every gradient in the spectrum of race, gender, nationality, socioeconomics and more.
Yet, we are bound together by a common thread, a shared experience rooted in a feeling of “otherness” that is always there and will always be there. Our shared experience is also rooted in our sense of pride as a community.
For me, this sense of community was forged by my experience growing up as an isolated gay teen in the Adirondack mountains. in the early nineties Finding the LGBTQ community saved my life. Never could I have imagined that being gay would be a gift, not a curse, and a source of pride, not of shame.
In June of every year, our community celebrates LGBTQ Pride with events around the world that mark the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall uprising. This tradition began here in the Village, one year after LGBTQ people fought back against oppression, when New Yorkers and LGBTQ people from across the Northeast gathered around the corner from the Stonewall Inn to demand their civil rights and to assert their humanity. Carrying banners and signs, they walked defiantly up Sixth Avenue to Central Park in the first Christopher Street Liberation Day March.
Year after year we’ve gathered as a community to celebrate the progress we’ve made, take stock of where we are, and forge ahead with renewed determination to rid the world of hatred and discrimination. This year is the 50th anniversary of New York City’s first LGBTQ Pride march, yet, paradoxically, for the first time since 1970 there will be no march.
Though we won’t be marching or rallying at the Stonewall Inn this year, we must still celebrate and commemorate pride. This will be a test of our creativity as a community, but it’s a challenge we must meet. That is why this special LGBTQ Pride issue of Westview News is so important. I want to thank the publishers and contributor Kambiz Shekdar for making it happen. Somewhere, a young LGBTQ person will find this issue and know that not only are they are not alone, but that they are also part of an incredible community.
Erik Bottcher is Chief of Staff to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and a candidate for City Council, District 3.