Giving thanks for community
Ah, Thanksgiving - the start of what we call the holiday season, but if you've seen any TV, looked at a newspaper or been on a website recently, you've likely noticed that the season seems to have already started. Many people call this the "joyous season." But for many LGBT people, this is not a joyous season, especially the most disenfranchised in our community - youth who were forced out of their homes or, worse, forced into "conversation-therapy" camps; trans people who were disowned by family and friends; and seniors, most of whom came out in a time when there were no rights and little tolerance, especially from family.
But much is changing, and here's where our struggle has made gains.
Some of those same disenfranchised people, who may have dreaded this season that left them out of that family joy, have found places and a community that want to embrace them. In the past, they may have been left on their own or struggling to find friends in a similar position. We as a community have now built a structure to provide outreach and show love.
In each LGBT community in this country, you'll find community centers cooking a Thanksgiving meal and swinging their doors open for those who want to share the holiday. We've built homes for that first out generation, and many of them are an open and welcoming place for the holidays. LGBT youth groups across the country likewise have created events to show our youth that they are loved and cared for.
Still more work to build a strong community is needed. These are all first steps, but don't despair; we've only just begun, since that word "community" was only founded and fortified in 1969. The process of building community is young, and building a structure takes time.
A big THANK YOU to all those community centers and organizations that look after the most disenfranchised in our community. To them, I raise my glass and give thanks. They make this truly a happy Thanksgiving.
Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation's most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. His recently published memoir, "And Then I Danced," is available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble or at your favorite bookseller.