This year InterPride, the international organization of groups that host pride events, convened in Pittsburgh PA from October 22 through 26. More than 100 countries were represented and Pride events hosted by this group of delegates touched the lives of the well more than a million people worldwide who attended these events. Pride events held in one part of the world often give hope to LGBT people in places where living their daily lives is an exercise in courage. There are a number of groups who hold marches throughout the year; groups who host events in June commemorating the Stonewall Rebellion of 1969, as well as remembrances of transgender brothers and sisters who have passed during the year; and groups that host events for National Coming Out Day in October. Many areas have groups who produce different events and whether it’s a march, a party, an anniversary celebration, or a vigil, every one of these events shows people’s community pride.
What would an organization whose march is about three blocks long and comprised of about 50 people have in common with an organization whose march is miles in length and six hours in duration? You’d be surprised–while size matters, it’s not the only consideration. Assuring that permits are gained and that your marchers, and even protesters’, safety is considered are matters that are important to pride coordinators. The sessions included how to get the word out about your event to those who need to hear it, how to get board members who will actually work for the good of the organization, and how to determine what type of board members you need to move your group from point A to point B as you develop. It’s equally useful for groups small and large to share their best practices and discuss the ways they have been successful throughout the year and some of the things they would do differently going forward.
Most wonderful are the networking opportunities that are part of a gathering like the Annual General Meeting of InterPride. Mentoring occurs when an organization that does something really well offers its strength to a group who needs that advice. Meeting people from around the world is not something that happens to most of us on a daily basis and, in the final plenary session, hearing directly from the delegate from Uganda what it meant for him to be able to travel to this meeting, gain the knowledge, and make the connections that he did, and how meaningful it was to take that back home, moved him, and the rest of us as well, to tears. Sharing stories and listening to the experience of others and the challenges they have had are salient reminders that there is much work to be done to continue to make the world better. Being the better part of ourselves, and sharing our own stories, is just the beginning.
In the Northeast, we take many of our rights and freedoms for granted. Being Lesbian or Gay is almost a non-issue here. Remember that many of the events we take for granted were won by people who weren’t interested in being mainstream. Every one of us continues to fight for equality until we are all equal and we could use your help.
Interested in more information about Pride around the world? Learn more about Pride in hostile environments, where Pride is held on your work or vacation travel schedule, where human rights violations are rampant, where World Pride will be next and the events hosted, and how to get involved at the grass roots level right in your home town! Where? Visit www.InterPride.org for more information and details.