Nora Cook is an undergraduate student at Georgia Southern University double-majoring in Professional Communications and Gender Studies. She is also the President of Feminist United at the Georgia Southern University Armstrong Campus.
I could give you a history lesson on how Pride started. I could give you the number of people who died alone and scared during the AIDs crisis. I could tell you how the government has systematically relegated LGBT to second class citizens by limiting their rights and resources. However, this information is already widely available and widely ignored. The facts and history are still not enough to end the hate and discrimination of people in the LGBT community face every day. We are told that our oppression is in the past and we should move on. But we cannot because society still reminds us every day that we are not welcomed.
I’ve known that I was Bisexual from the moment I saw Xena: Warrior Princess on the television as a young girl. Although I did not have the words to describe my feelings, I knew that I not only wanted to be her, but I also wanted to be with her. She was strong, beautiful, and courageous and everything about her made me tingle. The years passed on, the feelings for both men and women continued, but only one was kept secret. It was made clear by the society that if I were to be open about my sexuality, I would not be accepted.
I am 28 now and It wasn’t until two years I ago, I finally told my mother. Society still does not accept me or others in the LGBT community, but I knew my mother would. I owed it to all of those who stay hidden out of real fear and danger. The awareness of my privileges made it imperative that I be honest with who I am so I could stand up for all who cannot. Society only changes when those with access fight for those who do not. Right now, we are forgetting our responsibility to protect the most vulnerable amongst us because of our own cowardice.
People who are supposed to be stewards of education take advantage of their power dynamics to tell a young trans-boy that his identity is an abomination. Medical professionals are now allowed to deny treatment to a person based on their sexual and gender orientation. Church members disregard their fellowship to out another member to their parents, knowing full well the violence it could entail. Non-Profit Organizations actively discriminate against and deny services to the LGBT community. Black Trans Women face the highest risk of suicide, sexual assault, and murder. These are the things that are all things that are happening now.
As an ally or volunteer, you must realize that sometimes you are the one point of support in an LGBT persons life. You hold a certain position of power in being able to offer them resources in a world where they are actively refused. It is your responsibility to acknowledge that power in being the one person that stands between them in the access and respect they deserve. Part of that responsibility involves actively reaching out to and advocating for the most marginalized of our society: Black and NBPOC, Transgender people, and those with HIV/AIDS. Be aware of the violence and oppression that they still face every day. Research local LGBT organizations and learn how you can help. Save the Trevor Project Crisis Hotline number (1-866-488-7386) and the Trans Lifeline number (877-565-8860) in your phone and share it with those in need. Most importantly, respect people’s sexual or gender orientation, pronouns, and always stand up against discrimination in your daily life.
IVolunteer International is a Gold Seal nonprofit organization on Guidestar. Operating from Savannah, Georgia, IVolunteer International connects volunteers to volunteer projects around the world. Since 2017, IVolunteer has connected over 3,000 volunteers worldwide. In 2019, World Trade Center Savannah selected IVolunteer International as finalists of the Peace Through Trade Competition. In 2020, IVolunteer International will develop and launch a geo-connecting mobile application which will be available to volunteers around the world.