During the month of June, YWCA Northeast Kansas celebrates Pride Month by lifting up voices, sharing resources, and spreading LGBTQ+ joy! Of course, our services and support are available to LGBTQ+ individuals all year long. But Pride Month is an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments for LGBTQ+ rights, and reflect on the work that still needs to be done. YWCA Northeast Kansas stands in solidarity with members of the LGBTQ+ community, especially LGBTQ+ People of Color and the Black transgender women who have been leaders in the fight for equality for all.
From Stonewall Inn to Topeka, Kansas
Pride month began as an anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, six days of protests and demonstrations that took place after New York City police raided a Greenwich Village gay bar that was a refuge for the LGBTQ+ community. One year later, activists organized the first Gay Pride Parade, which grew into an annual month-long celebration all over the country. (History.com)
Here in Topeka, we have a variety of local organizations, businesses, and community initiatives that honor LGBTQ+ history and contributions to our local community.
The Greater Topeka Partnership recently launched Inclusive Topeka, an opportunity for businesses to show their commitment to diversity and equality. Take a stroll down North Kansas Avenue in the Noto Arts District for a journey across the rainbow bridge crosswalk, and pop into an art gallery (like Studio 62) or boutique (perhaps Pinkadilly) displaying LGBTQ+ pride through art, performance, and gifts.
A drive through central Topeka might take you past the Equality House, painted the colors of the Pride flag and the Transgender Pride flag. The Transgender Pride house was recently renamed the Mott House, after the late Transgender activist Stephanie Mott who founded and supported organizations uplifting LGBTQ+ voices throughout Kansas.
Everyone Deserves to be Safe
Study after study shows that LGBTQ+ communities experience higher rates of intimate partner violence and sexual assault than heterosexual communities (CDC). The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that about half of transgender survey respondents were sexually harassed at some point in their lifetime, and over half experienced some form of intimate partner violence. As a provider of services for people impacted by sexual violence, stalking, and trafficking, YWCA Northeast Kansas is acutely aware of the unique challenges that LGBTQ+ victims/survivors face when it comes to experiencing safety, accessing resources, and finding help and support. Some tactics experienced by these survivors include:
–Using looks, actions, gestures to reinforce homophobic or transphobic control
–Denying a survivor’s gender identity or sexual orientation
–Accusing them of lying about their gender identity or sexual orientation
–Reinforcing internalized homophobia and transphobia
–Telling a survivor that no one will believe them or that they deserve abuse because of their gender identity or sexual orientation
–Using privilege or ability to “pass” to discredit the survivor, put them in danger, cut off their access to resources or use the system against them
The services at the YWCA Northeast Kansas Center for Safety and Empowerment are available for ALL, regardless of sexual orientation or gender. If you or someone you know has been impacted by domestic violence, sexual violence, human trafficking or stalking, our advocates will answer your call 24 hours a day at our toll-free helpline: 1.888.822.2983
Working Together, Moving Forward
There is still a great deal of work to be done in order to realize true equality for all, and YWCA Northeast Kansas commits to being a partner in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. One way you can join us is by scheduling one of our trainings or educational workshops for your business or organization. Outreach and education to community members is crucial in order to eliminate the issues of domestic violence, sexual violence, human trafficking and stalking in our community, address the unique barriers LGBTQ+ survivors face when accessing safety and support, and to ensure survivors of all identities have knowledge of and access to the free and confidential services available at the Center for Safety and Empowerment.
Contact us about having a presenter out to your agency, business, club, church or social group: (785) 354-7927!