Editorial: Take Pride in progress


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On Saturday, the streets of Iowa City will burst with the colors of the rainbow as residents and visitors gather to celebrate the city’s 43rd Pride celebration— an annual event dedicated to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community.

The weeklong celebration is organized by Iowa City Pride, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to “providing a variety of inclusive, diverse, and fun events throughout the year” — as stated on its website — and culminates with the annual Pride celebration, which will take place this weekend.

This week should be a time, too, to celebrate Iowa City and the University of Iowa’s long history of gay-rights progressivism.

In 1970, the UI was the first university in the United States to recognize a gay student group. The Daily Iowan began a five-part series on the then newly emerging gay rights movement shortly after that.

Later, the UI was also became the first public university in America to extend domestic partnership benefits to same-sex couples employed by the university.

In 1977, the Iowa City City çouncil passed the state’s first antidiscrimination ordinance to include sexual preference.

And in the most monumental effort, as well as the best-known, Iowa became the first state in the Midwest to legalize same-sex marriage in 2009.

Although Iowa has long been among the nation’s most progressive states in acknowledging and advancing gay rights, the annual Pride celebration is still necessary in order to raise awareness, as well as to commemorate the past and present struggles of the LGBTQ community.

It is important to remember that for all its recent progress, the gay-rights movement still faces a great deal of opposition.

According to a poll conducted last fall by The Iowa Republican and Consumer Research, 49 percent of Iowans support same-sex marriage, while 42 percent still oppose it. Moreover, 35 percent say they strongly oppose same-sex marriage.

It is only through the continued integration of the long-marginalized LGBTQ community into the mainstream that such opposition will erode.

That’s where Iowa City’s Pride Week comes in.

In order to reach the widest possible group of individuals this week, Iowa City Pride has organized a combination of serious and not-so-serious activities.

On the serious end of the spectrum, there have been events in the area that were geared toward addressing some of the major issues and concerns for persons who may identify as LGBTQ — for example, religion. Author Jeff Chu had a reading from his book Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America. at Prairie Lights.

On the lighter side, there have also been various events for members of the LGBTQ community and their allies to make new connections and enjoy themselves, such as karaoke and Pride Drag shows at Iowa City’s premier LGBTQ club, Studio 13.

There’s no doubt whether the state of Iowa, and our very own Iowa City, has certainly been an example to the rest of the country when it comes to respecting the rights of LGBTQ individuals. Unfortunately, in our nation, our state, and even our own community there is still a lot more to be done and a long way to go.

Let us put our differences aside and come together this week to show support for our brothers and sisters and to celebrate acceptance and diversity.

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