We celebrate Pride Month in June but there’s no question that the past few years have been challenging for the LGBTQ+ community across the country. In 2023 alone, there have been close to 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced nationwide. As a nonbinary adult in this work, it’s devastating to watch as extremist politicians try to strip us of our rights and exclude queer people from society. But despite their harmful efforts, I'm in awe of the positive work advocates have been able to push forward and of the folks who have shown up for the queer community.
Despite the challenges and obstacles, there are a number of victories for the queer community, including right here in Arizona, that may not always make the headlines but are important, nonetheless. Like several other states, Arizona started the year off with a slew of anti-LGBT bills being introduced in the state legislature. We worked with our allies to fight back against the hateful bills that targeted transgender youth—bills like SB1040 that would’ve banned transgender students from using the correct restroom, and SB1001 that would’ve banned teachers and school staff from referring to students by the correct pronouns.
But this year was different; after running on a platform that included a promise to stand up for LGBTQ+ Arizonans, Governor Katie Hobbs kept her campaign promise and vetoed every anti-LGBTQ+ bill that crossed her desk. Governor Hobbs has been a steadfast supporter of the community from her first day in office, and her vetoes continue to protect our rights across the state.
However, our work wasn’t all defensive this year. We partnered with Representative Andrés Cano and the Human Rights Campaign to introduce HB2703, which would provide critical protections for LGBTQ+ Arizonans by including them in the state’s nondiscrimination law. This bill helped move the conversation forward and while it did not pass this session, we look forward to continuing to advocate for these important protections in the future.
It’s not only governors and other politicians who are taking a stand. Through my own work ensuring that schools follow federal civil rights laws and protect the rights of trans and nonbinary youth to express themselves, I’ve witnessed students and advocates stand up and fight for who they are. I’ve seen how they fight for the rights of their peers, and it’s been an honor to work alongside these young people.
I was reminded of the joy that surrounds the queer community just a few weeks ago when I attended the youth-lead Trans Prom in Washington, D.C., which was organized in large part by Daniel Trujillo, a transgender boy and LGBTQ+ rights activist from Arizona. Over 200 advocates from across the country came out to celebrate with drag performances and fantastic outfits, and it highlighted the power and importance of trans joy in the face of adversity. It was a great reminder that, no matter what challenges we face, we should always take time to celebrate each other and the unique qualities we bring to the table. After all, we are stronger together.
While the challenges facing our community are not going away anytime soon, we should take time during Pride month, and every month, to reflect on and celebrate the successes our community and allies have achieved. From stopping harmful legislation from being enacted to making history, we have a lot to celebrate. Every step forward, no matter how small, is still progress.