Lately, you’ve probably been seeing a lot of ads and banners encouraging you to get out there and vote. But perhaps you find the idea intimidating. Maybe you’ve never voted before. Maybe you have little interest in voting. Perhaps you have been told that your vote “wouldn’t matter that much anyway, so why bother?”
We in the LGBTQ community have fought for equal rights for years. We have made significant progress. However, over the past few years there has been some backtracking in terms of LGBTQ equality. There have been times where the voice of this community is essential, in order for our rights to be upheld. This is one of those times. LGBTQ youth and young adults have made lots of changes before. Now, we can do it again.
How? By getting informed, registering to vote, (if you haven’t done so already,) and heading to the polls for the 2020 election.
Our voices have made changes before.
We are a new generation that wants to see some changes from previous generations. In the past, the LGBTQ community has experienced extreme discrimination and hate. While this has not been completely eliminated, we have definitely made progress. Thanks to our votes and our outcries.
Think of the Stonewall riots that took place in 1969. While these were not the beginning of the fight for LGBTQ rights, these riots made a significant impact. Why? Because the people in the community decided they had had enough of oppression. That they had been silenced for too long. The protests and riots that followed the police raid of a gay bar were the beginning of a significant rise of LGBTQ voices. What happened at Stonewall empowered the community to take more action for their rights.
Think of a more recent event: the legalization of gay marriage in the United States. This change was brought about because the community refused to stay silent. We spoke out and protested for our right to love who we love. We went out and voted in favor of the legalization of gay marriage, and voted for candidates who would speak on our behalf and make changes in our favor. Because we took action, the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide. This was a huge step forward in equal rights for our community, and it was brought about because we showed up to take action.
If it wasn’t for our community’s persistence and votes, we wouldn’t have the rights that we do today. However, in recent years, there have been some attacks on the rights we fought for.
What’s at stake?
In the current administration, some steps back have been taken in LGBTQ equality. We have people in positions of authority who do not care about our rights, or who outright speak against us. And citizens of the United States who are against this community certainly show up to vote to keep candidates who won’t fight for us. Candidates who will chip away at the rights we’ve fought for for years.
For the past four years, this has been occurring. During the first week of the current administration, mentions of LGBTQ rights were removed from the official White House website. And later on, more moves were made against our community. Questions about sexual orientation and gender identity were going to be placed on the census for this year, but the plan was rejected. Transgender people were banned from joining the military. Flying the rainbow flag at embassies was banned. Health care plans for transgender people were planned to be taken away. The Department of Justice suggested to the Supreme Court that employers could fire LGBTQ individuals solely due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. The court ruled against this, of course, but the fact that it was suggested by this administration is worrying. Especially when one takes into account the aforementioned attacks on our rights.
Many of us in this community fear for our futures. For our own futures as well as the futures of our friends and family who are a part of this community. We need more representation. We need more people in our government who will fight for this community. People who are a part of this community. People who will speak on our behalf in positions of authority.
To LGBTQ youth and young adults: we can make a change again. How?
Knowledge of what’s at stake should not incite fear. Instead, this information should be seen as a call to action. We encourage you to use your voice to speak out against what this administration has done and will continue to do if there is not a change.
But how can you ensure that your voice gets heard? By voting.
It is estimated that about 9 million LGBTQ adults are old enough to vote, with almost half of that group being younger than 35. In other words, this new generation has a strong chance of swinging this election in favor of LGBTQ rights and overall equality. Our votes can create a more diverse government. One that will be more sympathetic and understanding of what this generation wants for this country. For OUR country. A government that will have a passion for our rights and equality for all, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.
To ensure that this change takes place, it is important that we take action.
If you have not registered to vote yet, we encourage you to do so. We also encourage you to inform yourself on the candidates that are running for office in this election. The candidates that will represent your state, as well as the candidates that will represent the nation as a whole. Make sure that you read up on what each candidate stands for. What rights they will protect and what changes they plan to bring about. Find candidates who will support this community and protect the rights that have been attacked during these past four years.
LGBTQ community, the election is just around the corner. Register. Get informed. And vote to protect our rights.