Pride 2024: LGBTQ+ Advocacy this June and Beyond

June 3, 2024Sammy Angelina

Every June in the U.S., we celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month. While Pride is often seen as a flaw or a vice to be tempered, we flip that notion on its head every June, as we celebrate the LGBTQ+ community with a sense of pride that's not just acceptable, but essential. It's a unique time when being proud is about embracing who you are, loving openly, and standing together in solidarity as a community.

While Pride Month has come to be a time to celebrate, affirm, and honor LGBTQ+ communities and their ongoing fight for equality, Pride Month was originally established to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Uprising. After a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in New York City, patrons fought back against the routine harassment by the New York City police department. Many credit Marsha P. Johnson, a Black transgender woman, with starting the uprising that became an iconic flashpoint, sparking the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement.

The Reform Movement’s commitment to LGBTQ+ equality is guided by Jewish text and tradition. In the story of creation, the first narrative we encounter in the Torah, we learn that every person is created b’tzelem Elohim – in the holy image of God (Genesis 1:27). The Mishnah expands on this fundamental teaching: “when humans stamp coins with one seal they are all identical, but the Holy One stamps every human being uniquely so that none is like another” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5). However, there is more to learn from this verse in Genesis, particularly when addressing transphobia. The full verse states, “And God created humankind in the divine image, creating it in the image of God — creating them male and female” (Genesis 1:27). Rabbi Yeremiyah ben Elazar offers the opinion that God created the first human as an androginos. He interprets the verse “male and female [God] created them” to mean that this being must have been both female and male at the same time. In fact, our Jewish legal texts mention at least six different genders across the gender spectrum.

While it is important to celebrate and show up for the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month, our support (particularly those of us who may not be part of the LGBTQ+ community) should not be limited to just one month of the year. Already in 2024, state legislatures have introduced hundreds of bills that attack the LGBTQ+ community - especially LGBTQ+ children. One of these includes a law in Utah that bans transgender people from using the facilities that align with their gender identity if their gender identity doesn’t match their sex assigned at birth. The epidemic of anti-trans violence, which historically targets transgender Women of Color, continues with at least 32 transgender or gender non-conforming people killed in 2023 and at least 13 have already been murdered in 2024, and this doesn't even account for the unprecedented attempted suicide rates of the trans community (42 percent). State legislators are also actively attacking DEI efforts in schools and trying to erase LGBTQ+ identities by instituting book bans. These legislative and physical attacks harm LGBTQ+ people throughout the year and has the potential to cause years of trauma and generational trauma.

It is important that we take time during June to celebrate, while also committing ourselves to action. Here are some of the many, potentially lifesaving actions you can affirm and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights during the month of June and throughout the year:

  • Get involved in the Every Voice Every Vote Campaign: No matter who we are, what we look like, or who we love, we know our communities are stronger when we are free to be our authentic selves, work together, and show up for each other. Engage in voter outreach to build a strong democracy and a community where everyone - whatever our color, identity, or zip code-belongs. When all have a say in decisions that impact our lives, we can act as voters to defend every American's right to housing, employment, healthcare, and education. Order kits to send postcards to voters in states with a significant number of people of color and racial gaps in voter participation.
  • Host a Pride Shabbat: Organize a Pride Shabbat service to emphasize LGBTQ+ inclusion. Utilize our Pride Shabbat Resources for your service or program, whether during Pride Month or any other time of the year. Additionally, join the RAC and our interfaith partners in Faith for Pride, a month-long initiative highlighting religious support for LGBTQ+ equality. Visit the Faith for Pride website to find or register an event.
  • Normalize Pronouns in Your Community: Incorporate pronouns into daily interactions to support transgender and gender expansive individuals, especially youth. Check out the URJ Quick Guide to Pronouns for guidance.
  • Contact State Elected OfficialsAdvocate to your Governor and state legislators to halt attacks on LGBTQ+ individuals.
  • Contact Members of CongressUrge your Members of Congress to cosponsor the Equality Act to ensure civil rights protections for all LGBTQ+ people.
  • Read and Share LGBTQ+ Jewish Literature: Order and read Mishkan Ga'avah: Where Pride Dwells: A Celebration of LGBTQ Jewish Life and Ritual from CCAR Press.

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