The Significance of Pride Month & Loving Day

GOLF MANOR (6/14/2021) – Submitted by Golf Manor Mayor Stefan Densmore

Each month this year I’ve included in my mayor’s report a reflection on the diversity of our village and the greater strength we have when we educate ourselves to the experiences beyond our own. This includes the history of our nation’s shortcomings and tragedies, in our continuing journey to better manifest the ideals laid out in our country’s founding documents. I believe we are indeed stronger when we come together in celebration of that diversity, which is why I’ve committed to doing these spotlights each month. 

My wife and I got married in 2010 which was five years before the Supreme Court decision which made gay marriage legal in the US. I was very aware when planning our ceremony that we were privileged to freely and publicly celebrate our love for one another. I had intimate friends and family that did not have this privilege. With this awareness we published the following statement on the back page of our wedding program:

We are honored you chose to celebrate this day with us!  We share a belief that love is a gift from God that has healing power for individuals and subsequently for humanity as a whole.  We look forward to the day when all couples who have received this gift may have it openly recognized and respected by their community, as we have been afforded today.  We hope our wedding inspires renewal of love in your lives, and resurrection if love has been missing or felt lost.  Heidi & Stefan”

I was remembering this as I was preparing my comments to acknowledge Loving Day, and the month of June being recognized nationally as Pride Month.

Loving Day. Loving Day is June 12th and acknowledges the anniversary of the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down all the laws that remained outlawing interracial marriage. At that time interracial marriage was still illegal in 16 States. It was a unanimous decision of the Supreme Court in 1967 that these State laws forbidding interracial marriage were a violation of the Constitution. The Court said “the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual, and cannot be infringed by the State.”

Loving Day gets its name from Mildred Loving (her maiden name was Jeter) who married Richard Loving in Washington, D.C., in 1958. Reportedly, Mildred did not realize that interracial marriage was illegal, and they were arrested a few weeks after they returned to their hometown north of Richmond, Virginia. They pleaded guilty to charges of “cohabiting as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth”, and avoided jail time by leaving Virginia and agreeing not to return to the state for 25 years.

The Lovings moved to Washington, D.C., and began legal action by writing to U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Kennedy referred the case to the American Civil Liberties Union. After the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of the young couple, they returned to Virginia, where they lived with their three children. The Lovings remained married until 1975 when Richard was tragically killed when a drunk driver slammed into his car. Mildred never remarried and died in 2008 at the age of 69. 

Pride Month. The purpose of Pride month is to honor the history and ongoing efforts to achieve equal justice and equal opportunity for LGBTQ Americans, and recognize the impact that LGBTQ individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally. Memorials are also held this month for those members of the community who have lost their lives to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS.

There is still a lot of work to be done to manifest the ideals upon which our nation was founded: 

  • More than half of LGBTQ Americans report hiding a personal relationship, and about one-fifth to one-third have altered other aspects of their personal or work lives to avoid the experience of discrimination.
  • More than 1 in 3 LGBTQ Americans faced discrimination of some kind in the past year, including more than 3 in 5 transgender Americans.
  • Discrimination adversely affects mental and economic well-being, and leads to many of these Americans postponing or avoiding essential services including medical treatment.
  • Having one accepting adult in their life can lower an LGBTQ youth’s risk of attempting suicide by 40%, which emphasizes for me the importance of advocacy and proclamations like the one I’m declaring today, number 2021-2 Honoring LGBQT Pride Month.

I was honored to attend the very first residential Pride Picnic to ever be held in Golf Manor this month. I know I join many others in hoping this picnic becomes an annual event in the village. The picnic was held in Volunteer Park, it was a relaxed gathering and the day was beautiful. I was honored at the picnic to read the following proclamation declaring the month of June as “LGBTQ Pride Month”:

This report is respectfully submitted to the residents of Golf Manor. Thank you for the honor of being your Mayor. To our staff and elected officials, thank you for your service to the community.

Stefan Densmore, Mayor, Village of Golf Manor

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