Throughout Pride Month, LGBTQ+ folks are encouraged to show their pride by adorning themselves in colorful clothing, flying rainbow flags, and attending festive events & celebrations that promote visibility. These practices help to bring us together as a community, and allow us to join in celebration and remembrance of LGBTQ+ history.
There is both power and pride to be found in community – and it is time for LGBTQ+ individuals to tap into that collective power. When June ends and companies & elected officials begin to lower their Pride flags, we must ensure that they are held accountable throughout the rest of the year. That’s why it’s essential for LGBTQ+ people to get registered to vote.
1 in 5 LGBTQ+ people do not vote in elections – that’s 20% of all eligible LGBTQ+ voters in America. That 20% can make or break an election which, in turn, can decide if LGBTQ+ people are even allowed to work, vote, raise a family or grow a business in their hometown.
In 2016, a total of 40,000 votes separated the presidential candidates in the crucial battleground state of Pennsylvania – one of the only northeast states without LGBTQ protections. There were over 100,000 unregistered LGBTQ+ voters in Pennsylvania alone that did not make their voices heard in 2016. If merely half of those voters turned up at the polls, we could have a fundamentally different outlook for our communities in America.
It is important to acknowledge the reasoning behind not voting as an LGBTQ+ American. When faced with a government that has historically discriminated against them, especially for LGBTQ+ individuals of color, it is incredibly challenging to participate in that system. But when we don’t show up at the polls, hateful and homophobic officials are allowed to remain in office without so much as a challenge or expression of disagreement from their constituents.
It’s essential to remember that the NGLCC community needs to be involved in elections at all levels to ensure our social equality is met with economic equality. Our businesses need capital to continue growing, and yet, over 25 states do not have LGBTQ+ credit nondiscrimination protections. This means a bank loan officer is legally protected when discriminating against our fellow job creating, industry-innovating LGBT Business Enterprise owners.
When all the trappings and glitter of Pride Month are swept from the streets in July, we are left with the reality of the mountain of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation that is on the verge of passing around the nation. We must resolve to come together in power as well as pride by registering to vote, and showing up to the polls to combat these bills & defend the rights of our communities and our allies.