It pains me to acknowledge this, but gay bashing is on the rise in the U.S. again. Not since the 1990s have I heard of so many LGBTQ people being victimized. This month alone, I read about at least ten incidents, and one of the victims is someone I know. He is having facial reconstructive surgery after being beaten up last week by three homophobes outside a deli in Huntington, New York, simply because he was wearing a pride tshirt. I worry that the current administration seems to encourage people on all sides to be their worst selves. But rather than focus on the outrage and hurt and fear (and fury), I thought I’d instead talk about a community that has been getting it right.
Every February since 1990, Auckland, New Zealand, holds their Big Gay Out festival. Everyone gets in on the action, not just the LGBTQ folks. It looks like a real blast, and even the New Zealand prime minister gets involved! And every year, they do one simple, small thing to reinforce the idea that gay rights are human rights. The year the first video below was shot, they asked people for their definition of home. In the second video, they set up a #holdtight tent where couples could decorate their hands together and celebrate the simple joy of holding hands with the person you love. And in the final video below, there’s a graffiti wall where attendees could write love notes.
You can read all about the Auckland Pride organization and get dates for upcoming festivals on their website.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of a hate crime, check out the HRC website for guidance and resources.