June is Pride Month, and that means a lot of things to me. It honors the fight for equal rights. It celebrates the LGBTQ+ community and its contributions. It reminds us that our work is not yet done, and that coming together makes us stronger. And personally, Pride makes me think of my close friends on the front lines fighting for queer liberation. I’m honored to stand alongside these people in my life and community, looking to them as leaders as we continue battling for equality. It’s not easy work, but it is essential.
Below is a photo taken right after our first Pride Parade as a family in 2015.
I spend a lot of time thinking about ways Minneapolis can improve how the city functions in order to promote equality and support all residents. Especially at a time when federal and state-level policies threaten to undermine our progressive tradition -- including at the expense of our LGBTQ+ community -- city leaders must remain vigilant and proactive in standing up for what’s right.
This is a leadership lesson I learned through my faith, growing up in the ELCA Lutheran Church. I remember the start of the movement to ordain LGBTQ+ pastors. I was proud. After seeing my gay youth pastor treated badly, I thought this meant my church, which had talked so much about equity, would begin to live its values. But that’s not what the church decided to do at that time, and it shook me to the core. I’m happy and proud that the ELCA has now voted to be more inclusive, but that turbulent time still weighs heavily on me. Pride is an opportunity for all of us -- city leaders, faith leaders, community members, everyone -- to come together and affirm that we won’t tolerate less than equal opportunities and equal rights, for everyone.
In Minneapolis, we must ensure that LGBTQ+ community members unequivocally have the same rights, protections, and opportunities as everyone else. It is critical for our elected officials to prioritize the needs of long-marginalized groups. I have fought for LGBTQ+ rights throughout my career and in my personal life, and will continue to do so as part of the City Council.
So what does that look like for me? I’ll keep my promise to be an approachable, collaborative advocate for equality. I’ll fiercely push for policies that favor our LGBTQ+ community, like better healthcare options for underserved transgender residents and solutions to lower HIV rates that are disproportionately higher among LGBTQ+ people of color.
It was great to see the recent news that city buildings will now have gender-neutral bathrooms. I’m excited about the possibility of new city leadership that pushes the ideas of equity and inclusion further. City policy must match our rhetoric, and we’ve got to translate our good intentions into meaningful action. I will stand up to any policy -- at the city, state, or federal level -- that erodes equal rights or otherwise marginalizes our LGBTQ+ neighbors.
I’m encouraged by Minneapolis’ progressive tradition, and it’s true that our city for a long time has been recognized for its LGBTQ+-friendliness. But we can never simply assume that our systems work for all people. We need to constantly strive to do better, including by ensuring we are including LGBTQ+ voices in all processes.
In the meantime, I invite you to join me and my family in supporting our LGBTQ+ neighbors at one of the best Pride celebrations in the country. Head downtown with thousands of your neighbors on Sunday, June 25 to enjoy the famous Pride parade on Hennepin Avenue (look for us -- we’ll be the ones in blue marching with the firefighters). Then make your way over to the festival in Loring Park. This is one of Minneapolis’ richest traditions, and I’m excited to see you there.