My Pride Is a Rebellion
Compassion & Choices National Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Human Resources Jonathan Patterson shares what Pride month means to him.
Every year, pride season provokes a myriad of emotions. Growing up in Kansas, I was never exposed to an actual pride celebration. Sure, I went to the local LGBT bar, but that was on weekends only, on the outskirts of town, in the dead of night. In fact, it was not until moving to Oregon for law school that I attended my first Pride event. And I admit, I was conflicted.
As a Black, gay man, “Pride Season” is a reminder that, as far as we have come as a society, there are still mountains to climb and valleys to cross. We must remember that the origins of Pride began as a rebellion led by Black and Brown transgender women and others against police misconduct. We must remember that, even today, those same Black and Brown transgender women have an average life expectancy of roughly 35 years. We must remember that, in 2019, at least 27 transgender or gender-nonconforming people were murdered, while 2020 has already seen the violent deaths of at least 16 members of that community. And we must remember, in the words of James Baldwin, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
The same rebellious spirit that filled the first pride exists in the movement to close healthcare disparities at the end of life. At Compassion & Choices we understand that finishing strong at the end of life should be the status quo available for all, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, color, religion, or location. It is why we work to create a diverse, inclusive movement that reaches across political ideologies and language barriers. It is why we fight for legislation that removes barriers to care through the use of telemedicine.
So as we take to the streets, video conferencing, or responsible physically distanced gathering to celebrate our various communities, let us also mourn those who, for the simple fact of being, are no longer with us. And, in the spirit of Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, and the other pioneers of Stonewall, let us continue to fight so that all can live with dignity.