While walking in the streets of downtown Ferndale I am greeted with smiling faces and a wave of vibrancy and happiness. I see multiple rainbow flags and there is no one who isn’t enjoying themselves. Guess what? It’s pride month! Music is playing and people are dancing to the funky beats the DJ is giving out to the crowd. I will always remember this day as a positive experience with people of all different shapes, colors, and sexual orientations coming together to celebrate and honor the LGBT community in the United States of America.
I cannot say America has always been accepting of those who fall into the category though. Gay marriage was legalized in all 50 states as recent as June of 2015, just about 3 years ago, and gay hate crimes continue to occur all over the country still to this day. According to the FBI website, the amount of hate crime incidents reported against the LGBT community in 2016 was 1,056 compared to the 20 incidents against heterosexuals meaning for every 1 hate crime against a heterosexual there are 53 against homosexuals. No one should have to feel unsafe because of who they are as a person. When someone in this community (or just any person in general) thinks about what it’s like to be an American, they shouldn’t have to think of the hate or violence brought upon them, they should think of our growth as a society and how we are improving to a life that’s better for everyone, despite who you are and who you love.
Despite the statistics, we have taken action in order to make people feel more safe as an American in the LGBT community. In 2016 there were bills passed in several states to protect the victims of these hate crimes. Reported by the American Civil Liberties website, an affirmative nondiscrimination bill that was passed says that, “comprehensive nondiscrimination bills prohibit discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity (or only gender identity if state law already covers sexual orientation), in a range of contexts, including employment, housing, and public accommodations”. With this being passed, no matter what your sexual orientation is you are protected under the government. Seeing this and to have also been a participant in a celebratory event for this minority group brings me joy that my country is seeing the hate brought upon the LGBT community and taking action in making our home a safer one.
To be an American in this day and age, although isn’t always perfect, you are able to grow and are presented with opportunity that wasn’t available to most in the past and even to a great deal of countries in the present. Being an American doesn’t define you to having to be the majority, or the superiority in a problematic society of our world, it defines you, no matter what color, race, or sexuality etc., as a person with a dream who’s just striving to live their best life.