From Mark Bumgarner – Catawba County United Way Executive Director
By now, most of us know that Pride grew out of the Stonewall demonstrations to protest the treatment of the LGBT community. Pride celebrates persistence, growth and acceptance of the LGBT community in the face of adversity. Of course, the festivities, parades and merchandise figure largely into this celebration now, but there is much more to Pride that is overlooked in all the celebrations.
One aspect of Pride I particularly reflect on is the AIDS crisis. AIDS brutalized the LGBT community, particularly gay men.
I was a teen to mid-20’s during the crisis, and I knew all too well the risk and loss that came to my community with this epidemic. During this time, our government did little to nothing to assist those with the virus. In fact, the then president didn’t even say the word ‘AIDS’ until 4 years into the epidemic. Many hospitals at the time often refused treatment to those suffering out of fear.
It was the Lesbian population who stepped up. They often cared for and advocated for those gay men suffering with the virus when no one else would. Fun Fact: The L in LGBT was usually used after the G until the AIDS crisis, when the community, in recognition of the work of Lesbians for their gay brothers switched the order.
I find this compassionate leadership at the very heart of United Way – when nobody else will, United Way will. So when I celebrate Pride, I celebrate persistence, compassion, courage and advocacy – traits that fit us at United Way to a T. I hope you’ll join me!