LBGTQ+ advocates talk political climate entering pride month

Bill generated both in the South Carolina House and Senate dealt with a variety of LGBTQ+ themes, according to SC United for Justice and Equality.
Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 3:45 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 1, 2023 at 6:28 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Advocates for the gay and queer community in Charleston say they are excited for big plans and events this pride month, despite what they say felt like an attack on the community by the state lawmakers this session.

Chase Glenn is the Director at Alliance For Full Acceptance. The advocacy group located in North Charleston does a lot of lobbying at the state house for and against certain bills that deal with gay, queer and transgender people.

“Just this year, 19 anti-LGBTQ bills were filed at our state house here in South Carolina,” Glenn says.

Bill generated both in the South Carolina House and Senate dealt with a variety of LGBTQ+ themes, according to SC United for Justice and Equality, a group with which AFFA partners with in its advocacy efforts. Many lawmakers authoring the bills write in their proposals that the bills are to protect children and families.

“Those bills, span from a curriculum within schools to limiting the rights of parents to seek out the health care that their kid needs, specifically our trans kids. Any things related to changing your identity documents, there’s all sorts of different topics that were addressed in some of these anti-LGBTQ bills that were filed,” Glenn says.

While AFFA focuses on legal work, next door We Are Family is a nonprofit that provides programs and spaces for youth in the community. Jonatan Guerrero Ramirez runs the Closet Case Thrift Store and directs Community Events.

“Right now, more than ever, the awareness of our community is so important, not only for queer folks but more importantly for these youth. This month is a time where a lot of them feel like they are seeing where they are heard. We are here to provide that space,” Ramirez says.

None of the bills introduced at the state house this year passed. Glenn says some legislation the community finds threatening included banning discussion of sexual orientation in schools, banning gender-affirming care for people under the age of 26 and punishing doctors and parents who sought out gender-affirming care for minors. Ramirez agrees.

“The current climate right now in South Carolina is a little bit scary for a lot of our queer youth, a lot of our queer youth feel that their rights are being taken away. However, like I said, we are fans and we’re here to provide that space. We’re here to provide a knowledge base for these youth,” Ramirez says.

Another bill, the Senate’s S.332, aimed to legally create one version of a marriage certificate that provided space for a bride and a groom.

“The themes that we see here happening across our country and here in South Carolina through these bills is just this sort of othering of our community, like setting LGBTQ people apart and saying that we don’t deserve the same rights and freedoms that everyone else deserves for some reason, mostly because people maybe don’t understand us,” Glenn says.

He recalls how he did not see advocacy groups like AFFA or have a community support system like We Are Family when he was growing up.

“I would challenge folks that you don’t need to necessarily understand something completely to be able to have compassion and to see the need for everyone to have equal rights,” Glenn says.

As for pride month, the organizations are looking forward to their events.

“There’s nothing but love and positivity that happens in these events. When we plan these events, our intention is to have fun, to raise awareness about our community, to get resources to those who need it, but most importantly, to celebrate love to celebrate what queer joy is about, to celebrate the future and how far we have come as a community,” Ramirez says.

The Charleston Pride Parade will take place downtown on June 3 at 9 a.m. We Are Family has a list of events including family days with games and prizes, markets and an adult prom on their website.

“I think every time going into pride, I’m always thinking about the young people and thinking what it might feel like for them to not feel so isolated and feel so alone that for this time of year they can know that they’re supported and loved. And I hope that we can expand that out through the whole year,” Glenn says.