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Every Voice Is Special Because It Is Different

This Pride Month, Professor of Architecture Giovanni Santamaria, Ph.D., talks about how far society has come and how much more needs to be done for the LGBTQ+ community. Jun 12, 2024

Each June we celebrate Pride Month, commemorating the Stonewall Uprising, a series of violent demonstrations against a police raid on June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. It is considered the tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. The month is also dedicated to the celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender pride. Professor of Architecture Giovanni Santamaria, Ph.D., talks about how far society has come and how much more needs to be done for the LGBTQ+ community.

As we celebrate LGBTQ+ communities around the world, gratitude and recognition go to those whose shoulders we stand on today, those who strongly believed in the value of every person and fought or spoke up for compassion and inclusion regardless of the group to which they belonged. Collectively, they dedicated their energies, resources, and even their lives to making their voices heard, their faces seen, and their dimensions understood, and keeping the memory of Stonewall alive.

While it brings me joy to see how far our society has come, an equally deep sadness comes from realizing how often many members of the LGBTQ+ communities, along with several other minorities, still risk their lives in many places around our world. They see that recognition and respect for their basic right to exist is still compromised.

It’s our responsibility as individuals, family members, friends, educators, and as a society to do as much as we can to support them so they may reach their full potential, because that’s also our potential and a fertile ground for creativity. This is crucial to proactively and respectfully manage the inevitable and organic changes within a shared journey. The rainbow colors of the LGBTQ+ flag that we proudly celebrate, the flags waving more and more numerously from windows throughout our cities, represent the fabric of our humanity. Certainly, we are not yet able to fully comprehend the variety of biological and gender identities our nature includes, nor the complexity of who we choose to share our life with. Still, those colors represent and celebrate the recognition of each kind of diversity we see, feel, or are part of, and of each belief, race, or religion we belong to. These differences are the richness, strength, light, and resiliency that support each of us through the difficulties we sometimes face while we try to build a better, more balanced, and just future for ourselves and our society.

There are people who still live in fear of not having the freedom and safety to express who they really are and what they truly think and feel. At the same time, there are others who fear and judge that same diversity, trying with every means to eliminate it instead of seeking to understand and support it. It is clear we still have a long way to go.

Until everyone can make decisions about their own body or who to partner with, until each kind of physical, intellectual, racial, gender, and behavioral diversity is seen not as a limitation or as an excuse to discriminate and exclude, none of us really has the freedom we claim to have especially in countries like the one we live in and which has presumably built its core on freedom and democracy. That claim is what brought me and many others to the United States, giving us hope every day for the possibility of living in a “land of the free and the home of the brave.” These words are not a banner for political campaigns or a national anthem, but essential values that should be guaranteed to everyone and never be taken for granted.

We all live with our experiences and decisions by how we think and act toward the differences around us. At the same time, we have to work toward that within our families—in whatever form they may be—to foster compassion, understanding, respect, and care that can then be reflected in our society. Every voice is special because it is different. Every face is a story that helps us better understand ourselves and the world around us. Where someone who feels alone can finally recognize his/her/their centrality and feeling of belonging, where every “misfit” becomes a contributor, and the “strange/er” further represents a reason to bravely remain open to this shared meaningful journey that we call life.

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