Pride and Privilege

  By Kristopher W. Peters

Grappling with your sexual orientation isn’t really fun, easy, convenient, or conducive to long-term happiness. At least for me it wasn’t. I’d characterize the whole experience as rather anxiety-inducing and stressful. I’m sure many of my LGBTQ counterparts would agree. I tackled coming to terms with being gay by eventually waking up one day and saying enough already, who cares? I was exhausted with grappling with that identity crisis and decided I had enough. But I was lucky; I confronted coming out of the closet from a position of privilege. Many members of our community don’t have that luxury.

After all, I’m a white man, from an economically stable and relatively progressive household. My mother, a native New Yorker, has long-been an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights. During the Windsor and Obergefell years, when I think LGBTQ rights really started gaining national attention and public support, she would always rant about it and ask, “what’s the big deal?” So while coming out was incredibly liberating and transformative to me personally, I also didn’t have to grapple with any sort of significant reckoning with key people in my life. A lot of LGBTQ folks, including some close friends, can’t say the same.

This matters when we talk about representation, which I think is what Pride month is about. It’s about being out, loud, and proud, and celebrating the pretty incredible strides that the LGBTQ community has made. But it’s also a reminder of how much work there is left to do. I’m especially mindful of this because of what we’re seeing happening across our country right now. There’s a real intransience to a significant part of the LGBTQ community, particularly transgender and non-binary individuals. We see it in government actions (mainly on the state and local level), but also in businesses, and in the places we work. And these issues only get exacerbated when you add in other characteristics like race, sex, national origin, socio-economic class, or religion. That’s the tricky part about our community – there’s layers to it.

As lawyers, we are in an incredible position of power and privilege to help. Especially at a firm like Duane Morris, which so openly and vigorously supports DEI. So this Pride month, let’s check in with the LGBTQ people in our lives and ask how we can help. It could make all the difference.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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