Our world was beginning again. On June 19, the South Florida LGBT community was relaunching its energy, its excitement, and its colors on Wilton Drive.

 Up and down the street, in festive garb, with flags, with music, and Pride, we were good to go.

 A parade. A festival. A party. And then life happened. An inadvertent tragedy. A terrible loss. Pain instead of joy.

 Once again, all of us were reminded of how precarious life is. In a singular and inexplicable instant, the lives of many would change forever.

 A week later in Surfside, we would see it again, with a catastrophic and unimaginable incident that forever will be seared in our minds and hearts.

As news of the devastation in Surfside emerged, the human toll was beyond comprehension. SFGN published an ever so sad article revealing that a gay Argentinian couple that had just spent a year adopting a young child were amongst those lost in the condominium collapse.

Our community has lived with pain for decades, from disaster, disease, and discrimination. We have nevertheless emerged as a force for goodness, a voice for equality, a part of our society, rather than apart from it.

We no longer let politicians belittle us, classmates demean us, or laws mistreat us. We have representatives in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., who fight for our rights.

Our battles continue still, with legislators wanting to turn back the clock, particularly in Florida. No, this we cannot allow. This we must fight.

When there is loss, we must say a prayer for those gone, but fight like hell for those living. Challenges remain. Episodes like Pulse are a reminder there are those who still treat our community as a target.

To honor those who have passed, we must speak out for those still with us. We must find the passion and principles to continue to make a difference.

The good you do will come back to you. That is the meaning of Pride. Sometimes, it calls for parades, sometimes solemnity. Still today, even protests.

Pride means never having to say you are sorry. You are who you are, and you are God’s special creation. We are all in this together, no matter what part of the LGBTQIA collective you fall within. We are partners with a special purpose and unified pride.

Last month, a 28-year-old gay man named Carl Nassib made history. Unless you play fantasy football, you may not have ever heard of this defensive lineman with the Las Vegas Raiders. He did a little Instagram message saying, “Oh, by the way, I’m gay.” But those few words sent a message to the world.

He made history as the first active NFL player to announce that he was gay. We all can’t make history, but we can all make a difference. That is what pride is all about- your ability to become who you are.

The easy-going way Nassib made the announcement really mattered a lot. It was — forgive me — straightforward and simple, the way it should be and will be when all of us realize we are cloth of the same fabric.

As gay Americans, we have to work for the day when being gay is unique, but not unusual, when it warrants a passing word instead of a public pronouncement. That day will come, when you are not coming out of a closet, but just pushing aside a curtain. For many, it already has.

However, South Florida is not South Dakota. While we are celebrating on the shore, there are many still drowning in the ocean. Let’s not forget them.

The Trevor Project has not. It’s a non-profit organization created to support LGBT youth. I guess playing pro football has its benefits. The 28-year-old Nassib made a donation of $100,000 to the group on the day he came out.

Proving that our society today is different than it once was, the NFL and his teammates did not censure him. The league matched his donation and his teammates congratulated him. The world has changed. Being gay means being greater!

You never know what lighting a single candle can do. There are many things we can do, too.

Our Fund has earned a place of trust and honor in our community.

The Pride Center at Equality Park has a multitude of programs that need your support and aid.

The AIDS Health Care Foundation has helped underwrite a host of nonprofits for years, particularly more so during the pandemic.

If you want your two cents to matter, think about SunServe, Care Resource, and Latinos Salud.

Before he lost his life in the accident at the Stonewall Pride Parade, Jim Fahy was a generous and popular volunteer at the Poverello Food Bank.

We have neighbors in need, pets requiring rescue, and hospitals that need volunteers. If you are not a group person, become a force of your own. Become your own Carl Nassib.

Don't forget there is injustice still out there, from the churches that want to discriminate against you to the politicians who want to suppress your vote. Don’t stand for it. You have a voice. Use it.

When one part of our community is threatened, so are we all. Discrimination and denial have been part of our lives, but to quote the Billy Joel song, “We are still standing.”

Be who you are, and in the time you are here, precious and precarious though it may be, let the world hear your song.


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