by Kristen Zebrowski Stavisky
Last Sunday I spoke at Gay Pride Rockland, a joyous occasion celebrating our diversity and shared humanity. But our happiness on that day was also tinged with sadness for Orlando. As we celebrated, 49 families in that city grieved and another 53 families kept vigil, praying for the survival of their loved ones injured in the attack. It is incomprehensible to me that during this month long celebration of Pride, a madman entered a club and slaughtered innocents. Gay Pride Rockland is a celebration of our community — this year should have been particularly exciting and meaningful as we prepare to open a Pride Center in Nyack. Instead, we mourn and stand with our brothers and sisters in Orlando.
We have made many great strides. Marriage Equality. The repeal of DOMA and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. But, there are still so many fights we must wage. Just a few short weeks ago, I opened my newspaper and was disgusted to read an op-ed that suggested compassion for transgender individuals is misplaced. Ironically, the writer was a pastor.
I was not taught to hate. I was taught to love. The idea that compassion could ever be misplaced is baffling. The idea that this man preaches about individuals living their authentic selves is frightening. I spoke up on social media then and feel compelled to speak again now.
I will shout down hate. I will counter it with love. To my LGBT friends, I say yes, live your authentic selves, your gay, lesbian, bi, transgender selves. I will stand with you. I will fight against hate. We can and must do better. Our words matter. The angry and hateful rhetoric delivered on a daily basis chips away at the very fabric of our society. It is not okay. I am so grateful for Volunteer Counseling and Rockland Pride and the work they do to create positive change and a vibrant, accepting community. I was honored to stand with them last weekend and every day.
Together, we can reject the violence and hate and strive for a better Rockland and a better world.
Kristen Zebrowski Stavisky is the Chairwoman of the Rockland County Democratic Committee.