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Equality PA statement on Pittsburgh Pride

The Board of Directors and Staff of Equality PA released the following statement today in response to the controversy over the choice for the headlining performer at Pittsburgh Pride:

Recently in Pittsburgh, many people have raised valid concerns about whether “mainstream” LGBT advocacy organizations are truly inclusive or responsive to all of the people who are part of the broad and diverse LGBT equality movement and the LGBT community. We too wrestle with these issues and these concerns have sparked a deep conversation at Equality PA with our staff, our board, our volunteers, and our supporters. As a result of that conversation, we would like to offer a statewide perspective.

First and foremost, we agree that historically and currently many LGBT groups have not been fully welcoming and inclusive, and we believe that LGBT groups should acknowledge that fact and rectify those wrongs. To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, there is no true justice for any of us until there is justice for all of us. We also believe some people in the LGBT movement have the privilege of being able to escape some of the worst and most hateful discrimination that is too often directed at our community. People with privilege must lift up the voices of those who may not have access to power, such as communities of color, transgender and queer communities, young people, seniors, people living with HIV, and people who are economically disenfranchised. It is critically important to listen to the perspective from these communities and to value them.

Pride events were created by LGBT people in order to be seen and heard by people in privileged positions who are decision makers in our society. At the Stonewall Riots of 1969, the first “Pride,” those who called out for dignity and equality came from diverse communities including many people of color and gender non-conforming people. We believe that working for justice and equality for the LGBT community is the most important part of Pride’s history and we work to follow in that tradition.

Because we believe that all voices must be heard, we have decided as a team to participate in PrideFest on Sunday, June 14. It is our goal to be sure that our leaders in Harrisburg hear the voices of LGBT people in Pennsylvania who are not currently protected from discrimination at work, in housing, or in business services. Those who are the most disenfranchised in our community are often those who are most vulnerable to discrimination. We want to be able to carry every message from every person who attends any Pride celebration anywhere in Pennsylvania who wants to be heard on that issue.

It is also our goal to engage with all groups in Pittsburgh to contribute what we can to a productive conversation about how to move forward as a welcoming and fully inclusive community. We are open to feedback from all groups and individuals on the best way to do this, and we hope that constructive conversation will lead us all to being better advocates for equality and opportunity for every LGBT person in Pennsylvania.

If you would like to help Equality PA to be as inclusive and effective as possible, please fill out our five-year strategic plan survey or contact us via email at

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