Los Alamos County Councilor Sean Williams wore his squid hat Tuesday evening during his comments and reading of the Council proclamation declaring the second week of June ‘Annual LGBTQ+ Pride Week’ in Los Alamos County. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Los Alamos County Council members on Tuesday evening at the Municipal Building approved a proclamation declaring the second week of June “Annual LGBTQ+ Pride Week” in Los Alamos County. The proclamation was “accepted” virtually by Laura Lilley of Friends of Los Alamos Pride. Apparently there was a photo op and physical presentation of the proclamation earlier in the day to members of Los Alamos Pride with attendance restricted that was attended by Councilors Randy Ryti, Sean Williams and Sara Scott.
During the evening meeting, Councilor Sean Williams some personal comments prior to virtually presenting the proclamation to Laura Lilley of Friends of Los Alamos Pride. Williams’ comments were as follows:
“I decided to wear my squid hat to make a very particular point about Pride. Growing up in the 80s and 90s—a time when homosexuality was still illegal in some states, when “don’t ask, don’t tell” was seen as a reasonable compromise for gay service members—I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be comfortable “coming out.” This led to a a childhood of subtle deception, and I’m going to carry that with me for the rest of my life.
The other problem growing up like this is that you can’t integrate your sexuality into your identity. And sexuality is so much more than who you want to have sex with—just as anybody’s husband or wife is far more than “the person they have sex with.” Public perception of homosexuality changed as I grew up, so I was able to safely come out in undergrad, and I’ve since been able to reconcile who I am.
This hat, and the bear hat I wore at the budget meetings, are also part of who I am: severe at times, but for the most part, not actually that serious. And I think this is the best part of Pride: it’s a reminder that we can be who we are, and who we want to be.
That said, an interesting conversation has cropped up this year about Pride: the modern gay rights movement began with drag queens fighting cops in Greenwich Village in Manhattan. And before I continue, I’d like to say that in all my interactions with Chief Sgambellone, I’ve found him to be the pinnacle of professionalism. But back in the 60s and 70s the phrase wasn’t “gay pride,” it was “gay power.” The gay rights movement began as a radical movement, in a milieu of radical movements.
At some point the dominant strategy of the gay rights movement became—come out of the closet. It’s relatively easy to hate the anonymous other, but much harder to hate your son or daughter, your uncle or aunt, your best friend. This strategy was incredibly effective, but it came with a price: the push for normalization left many people behind.
Nowadays we have a Pride Month where MasterCard uses a rainbow logo on their US Twitter account, and politicians and police march in Pride parades. For that matter, my wedding ring is a symbol of what’s been accomplished. I hope this all means that LGBT kids today are spared some of the struggles of my own childhood.
I can’t help but worry that the loss of yesterday’s radicalism for today’s corporate Pride has left people behind. Would the Stonewall drag queens still be welcome, now that their legacy has become family-friendly? Or is Pride now almost exclusively for me, the married politician with a successful small business? Who have we left behind? That’s probably the question we should all be asking ourselves this month.
With these bittersweet feelings out on the table, I’ll now read the proclamation.“
The proclamation reads as follows:
“Proclamation declaring the Second Week of June “Annual LGBTQ+ Pride Week” in Los Alamos County
WHEREAS: Everyone has a right to live without fear or prejudice, discrimination, violence or hatred based on gender identity/expression or sexual orientation. It is imperative that everyone acknowledge and support diversity in their community – especially those communities that are most vulnerable; and
WHEREAS: June is national Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Plus (LGBTQ+) Pride Month. It is desirable to bring together LGBTQ+ people and their allies to form a tangible community of support and acceptance in Los Alamos and the surrounding local areas, and to create and enhance visibility and support of diversity in our community. It is desirable to celebrate, educate and engage the community on the issues, contributions, culture and unique voice of LGBTQ+ people, and the impact LGBTQ+ people have on local and global communities; and
WHEREAS: It is essential that the LGBTQ+ youth are supported by Los Alamos County and Northern New Mexico. According to the 2015 New Mexico Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey, approximately one in seven students identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or not sure. More than one in four of this student population had attempted suicide in the past year and were three times more likely to have been forced to have sex or experienced physical dating violence, and were twice as likely to be bullied at school; and
WHEREAS: According to “Mental Health in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth,” published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, visible LGBTQ+ sexuality-related social support from parents, friends, and community during adolescence each uniquely contributed to positive well-being in young adulthood, making them less likely to report depressive symptoms, substance use, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors;
NOW, THEREFORE, on behalf of the Council of the Incorporated County of Los Alamos, I do hereby proclaim the Second Week of June Each Year as “ANNUAL LGBTQ+ PRIDE WEEK” in Los Alamos County. We urge our citizens to respect and honor our diverse community and celebrate and build a culture of inclusiveness and acceptance.