Like In Providence, we are proud of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer-identified residents and our reputation as an LGBTQ-affirming city. We have a vibrant and engaged LGBTQ community, and as your mayor, I look forward to Pride each year. It offers an important moment for us to pause and celebrate the diversity that breathes so much life into our city, not only in June, but throughout the calendar year. Although we have made great strides nationally, our work remains unfinished, and the value of Pride endures.
I am proud that, in Providence, we have all-gender restrooms in municipal buildings and a healthcare policy that includes gender-affirming care for transgender and gender non-conforming employees. I am proud that we have an LGBTQ liaison, and that we’ve received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index each year I’ve been in office. I’m proud that we responded to hateful rhetoric and legislation by banning non-essential, publicly funded travel to states that were condoning it. Finally, I’m proud of the positive and inclusive climate we are fostering in our schools by passing comprehensive policies that affirm all students.
Despite all that, in other parts of the country, our LGBTQ colleagues, friends, and neighbors lack many of the protections we’ve been able to extend here. It has not yet been a year since the Pulse Nightclub shooting. The practice of conversion therapy is legal in forty-five states and leaders elected to some of the highest offices in our country have voiced support for it. Employees and residents in thirty-two states can still be fired for who they love. And it seems that each day we learn of another trans women of color who has tragically lost her life to violence.
And yet still, so many choose to be out and live authentic lives and by the simple act of waking up each morning, demonstrate immense courage. For them, we are incredibly proud.
Others begin each day forced to compartmentalize parts of their identities in an attempt to blend into a world that hasn’t yet learned how to embrace them. For them, we are proud.
We are proud of the incredible community of people that waited in line for hours to donate blood after the Pulse nightclub massacre. And we are proud of those in our community with intersectional identities – women, people of color, people with disabilities, who are even more vulnerable to the systems that oppress so many among us.
For all of those reasons and all of those people, Providence will remain a beacon of light and pride, and your city will do all it can to ensure each resident and visitor feels safe and affirmed. On Pride this year and each day that follows thereafter, your mayor will be standing proudly by your side.