Today, Representative Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) and 29 of her colleagues introduced HB729, which will permanently designate June as Pride Month in Ohio.
Designating Pride Month would be an important first step in ensuring that LGBTQ people are visibly reflected in Ohio law. By introducing this bill, Rep. Galonski and her colleagues are telling LGBTQ Ohioans that they are proud to stand with us in our collective fight for equality.
The introduction of this bill is more meaningful now than ever. In addition to traditional pride celebrations being postponed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many LGBTQ Ohioans are facing higher risk of exposure to the disease and more severe symptoms due to inequalities in our economic and healthcare systems. Many transgender Ohioans have struggled to access unemployment benefits, and studies have shown that LGBTQ people are more likely to be working on the frontlines of the pandemic in service and healthcare industries.
This bill also comes at a time when we, as a movement, are being forced to reckon with what Pride means and why we celebrate it. This Pride Month came at a time when Black Americans are once again demanding that our nation see the violence of racism, both in police forces and in our daily lives. It is important to center ourselves in the fact that Pride is a commemoration of the Stonewall Riots, which were nothing less than an uprising against the brutalization of LGBTQ people by police that was led by transgender women of color, Silvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson.
In that spirit, graced by the power given to us by LGBTQ people of color who came before us, we took to the streets in solidarity with millions around the world to show that racism cannot be tolerated and that we all have a role to play combating it. We also joined with hundreds of leaders across the state to demand that the Ohio Legislature declare racism a public health crisis.
The combination of COVID-19 and our current global awakening in regard to racial injustice have demanded that we reaffirm what Pride Month means. It is a commemoration of those LGBTQ people of color who started our movement, a celebration of the progress we have made, and a renewed act of protest to further secure equality for all LGBTQ people around the world.
We greatly appreciate the efforts of Representative Galonski and her staff to make this bill a reality, as well as each of her colleagues who agreed to cosponsor it. You can help us pass this bill by calling your Representative and asking them to support HB729.