NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, June 27th, 2020

The Pandemic is Personal: Jef­frey Robin­son on celebrating PRIDE during COVID-19

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.

If you have a sto­ry to tell, please feel free to con­tact us.

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.

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