To the editor:
I am writing this letter to express my disappointment that the Wellesley Select Board was unable to vote on a resolution to declare June as Pride Month in Wellesley at their May 16 meeting as the resolution was withdrawn. Pride Month is celebrated around the world, and has been celebrated in the US in the month of June for more than 50 years. While it originated in response to the Stonewall riots in 1969, modern Pride Month celebrations both honor the movement for LGBTQ+ rights and celebrate LGBTQ+ culture. Several of our neighboring communities have passed similar resolutions to acknowledge and celebrate Pride Month, and
even the Wellesley Girls Scouts are having a LGBTQ+ Pride Month celebration, complete with a Pride Month patch. Wellesley recently passed Article 17 which reads, in part. “As a Town, we will respond to stop intolerance or hate based on race, skin color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, sex, gender, gender identity/expression, class, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, disability, or any other like characteristic.” Acknowledging June as Pride Month would seem to be in line with this sentiment.
A 2021 Gallup poll estimated that 7.1% of the US population self-identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or something other than heterosexual, nearly double the percentage reported in 2012. While stable in the older generations, LGBTQ+ identification is rising steeply among the younger generations. Thus, we should expect a significant percentage of the population in Wellesley to identify as LGBTQ+. At the same time, LGBTQ+ communities in the US are facing increasing threats of violence. The impact of hate on the LGBTQ+ community, particularly among socially vulnerable populations that may be victimized by partner violence, homelessness, addiction, and lack of mental health, behavioral health, and psychiatric services, is significant. According to the Trevor Project, LGBTQ+ youth are more than 4 times as likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers, not because of their sexual orientation but because of how they are mistreated and stigmatized by society. Simply because we are a wealthy suburban community does not mean we are immune to experiencing these problems. This resolution would have been an opportunity for Wellesley to publicly acknowledge an celebrate the diversity in our community, and to specifically demonstrate how to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ individuals who are our neighbors, colleagues, friends, and children.
I hope that those who live and work in Wellesley will find a way to celebrate Pride during the month of June, and continue to support diversity in our town all year. While we do not need a resolution to do so, I do believe that it helps to speak as one voice when we say that the LGBTQ+ members of our community are supported, and that hate and intolerance is not welcome in Wellesley.