Editor’s note: Welcome to The Pandemic is Personal, a weekly series focusing on on how the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV‑2) is affecting the everyday lives of people throughout the Pacific Northwest. We hope to enlighten you and reflect on what you and others are addressing as this pandemic runs its course.
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Jeffrey Robinson is the chair of the Franklin County Democratic Central Committee and the Chair of Chairs for the Washington State Democratic Chairs Organization. In addition to being a proud Democratic Party leader, he is also an outspoken LGBTQ+ civil rights advocate. Currently he lives and works in Franklin County.
To be a member of the LGBTQ+ community is to carry within you a powerful heritage that crosses every corner of the globe and that has helped shape history.
This great heritage exists in every part of the human experience and has endured the wrath of empires, plagues, and unique forms of persecution such as institutionalization. To be a member of the LGBTQ+ community is to carry within you the spirit of a phoenix rising from ash.
We live in difficult times. Often, being who we are feels like we are in a state of perpetual siege. To be different in the United States of America of 2020 is to be on the front lines of a culture war all too similar to those our community has faced throughout its history. Yet if past is indeed prologue, if history does indeed repeat, then there is little doubt we shall overcome.
In my role as a Democratic county chair, I often hear from those who feel the burden of our times. “COVID-19 is killing us” they tell me. “PRIDE just isn’t the same this year.” I hear their pain, I see the agony of their isolation, and their desire to honor the special history of this extraordinary holiday.
I see them watch a world in turmoil and feel the resignation of their hearts.
In so many ways their thoughts are my own, their pain is a part of my reality.
However, after listening to them and sharing their feelings, I rise and offer them a different vision of where we are.
We survived the HIV/AIDS epidemic, I remind them.
In the Age of Trump, the right wing majority on the United States Supreme Court ruled that Title VII applies to people like us.
Transgender people and those outside the hetero-normative gender binary are finding their power. As I write this article, the leadership of the Washington State Democratic Party is dominated by members of the LGBTQ+ community, and people like me serve in leadership positions on a local level around the state.
We are gaining ground in the most difficult circumstances, as we always have. We are doing what we will always do, adapt, include, and overcome.
PRIDE Weekend this year may not be like those that have come before.
We won’t get to have parades, the bars are temporarily closed, and we must be physically distant from our friends. However, the true spirit of PRIDE is so much bigger than these things. Each time you live your life without apology, each time you support the Black Lives Matter movement, each time you wear that face mask, you honor the meaning of PRIDE. Each time you speak out against injustice, you honor the legacy of our community and everything this holiday stands for. Readers, you are the hero we all need, and no virus will ever change that.