An Open Letter from Reading Pride Celebration

On Sunday July 21, 2013, the seventh annual Reading Pride Celebration will take place at Centre Park, located in Reading’s beautiful Centre Park Historic District. Our purpose is twofold: to celebrate unity and diversity in the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) Community of the Greater Reading Area, and to demonstrate pride in our struggle for equality and the advancement of our common humanity. And this year we have much to be proud of. The striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 26, propelling us upon a now unstoppable trajectory toward eventual marriage equality nationwide; the affirmation of full marriage equality in California, which is now the thirteenth state in the nation to afford equal marital rights to gay citizens; and the May 23 decision by the Boy Scouts of America to permit openly gay youth under 18 years of age in their membership.

A tide is turning. While much remains to be done, American society is fast moving beyond mere tolerance and toward a broader acceptance of us gay Americans as we truly are: equals. It is not a resignation to some intractable political force. It is something far greater than that. As we continue to come out of the shadows to which we have for so long been relegated, more and more people are getting to know us personally, and in doing so are discovering that we are as ordinary and human as they are. Barriers of false preconceptions are being torn down, and new bridges of reality and understanding are being built.

We also see attitudes in Berks County and Reading slowly evolving. And this is refreshing and exciting. And so on July 21, as we celebrate the many national victories for equality that we’ve seen this year, we also celebrate the continuing evolution of openness and tolerance occurring in Berks County and Reading.
Yet many, whether due to being ill-informed or religiously ignorant, still fail to understand the source of our pride and the nature of our struggle.

We dare to celebrate, not so much our sexuality, but the fullness of our unhindered humanity. We dare to be colorfully proud, even jubilant, of who and what we are without apology in steadfastly fending off ignorance and oppression. While our sexual orientation or gender identities are not inconsequential to whom we are as a unique community, they are not the core of who we are fundamentally. We are not creatures of base sexual predation, as many opponents to equality have falsely asserted over many decades. We are, like all people; among those who our nation’s Founders acknowledged are “created equal” and who are endowed by our Creator with the inalienable rights to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

We are your neighbors.
We are your coworkers.
We are your fellow churchgoers.
We are mothers and fathers with children.
We are police officers.
We are firefighters.
We are rescue volunteers.
We are elected officials.
We are school teachers.
We are students.
We are restaurant servers.
We are coffee shop baristas.
We are retail workers.
We are lawyers and accountants.
We are doctors and nurses.
We are artists and musicians.
We are writers and singers.
We are blue collar and white collar.
We are people of faith and non-faith.
We are pastors and priests.
We worry about our kids.
We get mad at our partners.
We go to work on Mondays.
We coach sports on weekdays.
We visit the pub on Fridays.
We mow our lawns on Saturdays.
We go to church on Sundays.
We pay our bills and pay our rent.
We cry when we’re lonely.
We leap for joy when we find love.
We want to marry and start families.
We are children of God and children of the Earth.
We are your fellow Americans.
We are your fellow human beings.
We are your equals.
And you are ours.
That’s all we want: equality.
No more. No less.
That is our struggle.
And our struggle is our pride.

Diversity is part of the natural architecture of Creation, and so to oppose diversity is unnatural. Our Gay Culture generally, and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Community specifically, is but one color of our country’s coat of many colors. Our cause for equality is not a demand for color-blindness, but rather is a diligent effort to encourage renewed national vision where all our colors can be celebrated as blessed parts of the singular fabric of our common humanity. A common humanity advanced by a principle of fearless tolerance and an ethic of abundant love, rather than diminished by the imposition of any one religious, philosophical, or political ideology whose adherents would have us live as they demand. Ultimately, we desire the sublime liberation found in the radical expression of that one self-evident, sacred, and universal truth: that all people are indeed created equal.

Richard l. Spangler - President
Bethany Bower - Vice-President 
Judith Williams - Secretary
Henry Pruski - Treasurer