In June, LGBTQ+ communities and allies across the nation celebrate Pride Month. In Eugene, Pride in the Park will be celebrated on August 14 at Alton Baker Park; you can learn more at EugenePride.org. The parades, festivals and other events that mark Pride Month are an opportunity for those who have been marginalized because of their gender or sexual orientation to be visible. It affirms the right of those who are not cisgender and heterosexual to exist without fear and intimidation; it says that difference is normal and that there are many ways to live and to love.
Yet as we celebrate the strides that have been made towards equality over the last few decades, we also need to acknowledge that there is a huge amount left to do. Just as the passing of the Equal Rights Act did not see an end to racism, so the passage of marriage equality has not marked the end of homophobia, transphobia and other forms of hate directed against those who do not fit a narrow definition of “acceptable” gender and sexual orientation norms.
Hate crimes against LGBTQ+ individuals rose by 43 percent nationally in 2020 compared to the previous year, and a significant number of state legislatures across our nation have introduced laws that discriminate against transgender people, especially young people and children. Against this background, my administration and city staff are committed to ensuring safety, visibility and belonging for all our LGBTQ+ residents. Our Hate and Bias Reporting System has been used as a model for the rest of the state. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a bias incident, you can report it here: Eugene-OR.gov/reporthate.
Like many communities, we’re on a learning journey. We don’t always get it right — a couple of months ago, we omitted to mark the Trans Day of Visibility — but when that happens we will apologize and do better in the future. So as we commemorate Pride Month, I want to assure all our LGBTQ+ residents that not only will the city of Eugene show up to celebrate the wins, we will also stand up to protect your rights and be strong allies in the ongoing quest for equal dignity.
Lucy Vinis is mayor of Eugene.