We’re well into Pride Month, and that means our 250+ coalition of mayors are showing their rainbow stripes—literally.
The rainbow flag is going up at city halls across the country, but that’s not the only way mayors are celebrating Pride. They’re also marching in rallies and parades, and speaking out publicly in other ways to spread the message far and wide that equal treatment for LGBT Americans helps us build stronger communities for everyone.
Here’s a short look at how mayors are honoring Pride:
In dozens of cities, mayors have ordered the rainbow LGBTQ Pride flag to be raised above City Hall or other government buildings—and for many cities, it’s the first time that’s happening.
That’s the case for Ithaca, NY, where Mayor Svante Myrick is having the city fly the Pride flag above City Hall for the first time, throughout the entire month of June. Mayor Myrick announced the news himself on Facebook. “It will remain there the entire month of June,” he wrote, “as an appreciation of the immeasurable impact the LGBT community has had on Ithaca, and as a reminder of the horrors caused by unchecked discrimination.”
Ithaca isn’t the only city waving the flag this month. In Detroit, Mayor Mike Duggan is also flying the flag for the first time in the city’s history. The flag was hoisted over Hart Plaza in advance of the Motor City Pride Festival, the state’s largest Pride event.
“We are proud to be building a diverse city that includes our LGBT neighbors,” Mayor Duggan said.
Philadelphia has long hosted one of the country’s most robust Pride celebrations. But this year, the city’s “More Color, More Pride” event is trying to further add to Pride’s spirit of inclusivity by adding the colors black and brown to the traditional rainbow flag to lift up the experiences of LGBTQ people of color. “This shows we will fight for justice, equality and stand in solidarity with all members of the LGBTQ Community,” said Mayor Jim Kenney, who was involved in the decision.
Mayors are also recognizing the entire month of June as Pride Month, and using their proclamations to recognize the important contributions LGBT make to their communities.
In a statement designating June as LGBT Pride Month, San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee made a point to specifically mention two events that have defined the city’s LGBT community as one of the largest in the nation.
First, he recognized that 2017 would be San Francisco’s 41st year hosting an official Pride parade, making San Francisco’s celebrations some of the oldest in the nation. On a more somber note, Mayor Lee marked the 30th anniversary of the emergence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in San Francisco, and paid tribute to advocates who helped combat the disease, both them and now.
“Serving San Francisco as civic, business, non-profit and community leaders, our LGBT community contributes to our City’s history, economic vitality and culture, building a brighter future for all in San Francisco,” Mayor Lee said. Separately, in an op-ed, Mayor Lee discussed how Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination, which he conceived last year, plays into the important work of ensuring LGBT equality for all.
Chicago Mayor Emanuel also proclaimed June as LGBT Pride Month, and issued a proclamation recognizing the “academic, economic, artistic and social” contributions that LGBT people have made to the greater Chicago community. He also renewed the city’s commitment to protecting LGBT people’s civil rights. He said: “The power and purpose of this iconic event proves vital in our unified effort forge a more open and just society.”
Other mayors are taking a more direct approach to celebrating Pride, reaching out to the community in unique ways about why they support LGBT non-discrimination.
Some mayors, like Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, have submitted editorials to local papers—in his case, to The Journal Sentinel. “Fundamental to the celebration of our diversity is recognition that every person has rights, rights that are protected by law and by basic human decency,” Mayor Barrett wrote.
In his editorial, Mayor Barrett praised Wisconsin’s state lawmakers’ attempts to pass the Privacy Protection and Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act, which would update state law to ensure transgender people are protected from discrimination in employment, housing and public places.
Mayor Barrett also lauds the bravery of Ash Whitaker, a Kenosha boy who was discriminated against at his school because of his gender identity. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals recently decided in favor of Ash in a discrimination suit he brought against the school for violating his rights under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972—the first federal appeals court to deliver such a ruling.
No Pride celebration is complete without a march or a rally. Many mayors, including Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, use Pride parades as an opportunity to take their message of inclusion to the people. This year’s rally in Chattanooga featured a unified group of faith, business and political leaders who spoke out against a bill recently passed by the legislature that would essentially “erase” transgender people from current law.
“The state tells us a lot what we can and can’t do. And what we have to do to make sure to make progress is to make progress in the halls of Nashville as well, so everybody here knows what we have to do Chattanooga is a place where every person counts,” Mayor Berke said.
On July 1, San Antonio will hold its annual Pride celebration, too – and for only the second time in the city’s history, an acting mayor will participate. Mayor Ron Nirenberg, newly elected to the position – and the most recent member of Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination – will march in the Pride Bigger Than Texas Parade. Nirenberg is a Grand Marshal of the parade this year. His wife and 8-year-old son are also serving as Spirit Marshals. He has said, “We deserve a city that treats everyone fairly whether you’re transgender, bisexual, lesbian, gay or straight or whatever your definition, you deserve to be treated fairly by your city government.”
Other innovative ways of celebrating Pride include rainbow sidewalks. Many cities are getting into the spirit this way, including DC and Atlanta.
In DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser and others helped paint the town red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet in celebration of DC Pride this year. The city debuted nearly a dozen rainbow crosswalks earlier this month.
“We want to send the strong message that we value and protect D.C. values,” Mayor Bowser said.
And Atlanta has actually made these colors permanent. Mayor Kasim Reed announced on the one-year mark since the Pulse nightclub shooting that the crosswalks of Midtown would remain painted permanently as a way to remember all victims of anti-LGBT violence, as well as celebrate the contributions and advances of Atlanta’s vibrant LGBT community. “Today, on the anniversary of this horrific event, we remember those whose lives were lost and those that were forever changed,” Mayor Reed said.