World Humanitarian Day is an international celebration of kindness, respect and bravery in the fight for peace. This year’s theme “I Was Here” was held in conjunction with spokesperson and international entertainer, Beyoncé and highlights the powerful, self-empowerment ballad also titled, “I Was Here,” written by the highly-acclaimed Diane Warren. The UN cites, “World Humanitarian Day is a time to recognize those who face danger and adversity in order to help others […] and is a global celebration of people helping people.”
Humanitarian efforts exist in a multitude of capacities whether it’s offering up a seat on a crowded subway for an elder, assisting at the local homeless shelter or going abroad or in your own backyard to assist in relief efforts. The LGBT movement has seen so many courageous individuals who continually fight for respect within society and their efforts are commended, but also inspiration for us all to be humanitarians. Whether we are LGBT individuals who lead humanitarian efforts or individuals who lead efforts to end discrimination for the LGBT community, the work is so very crucial.
In recognition of World Humanitarian Day, GLAAD would like to acknowledge the many LGBT individuals who are continually fighting for equality, not only for themselves, but for equality that may come later—but will affect generations to come. The small successes are all a part of the greater success.
In March of 2012, the Human Rights Council of the United Nations issued a statement to the LGBT community: “In Message: You are Not Alone in Your Struggle to End Violence, Discrimination.”
“The High Commissioner’s report documents disturbing abuses in all regions. We see a pattern of violence and discrimination directed at people just because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. There is widespread bias at jobs, schools and hospitals, and appalling violent attacks, including sexual assault. People have been imprisoned, tortured, even killed. This is a monumental tragedy for those affected — and a stain on our collective conscience.”
The powerful statement positions LGBT rights as human rights, but also brings attention to the violence against LGBT individuals, especially those who reside where protections are very minimal, if at all.
To the members of the CeCe Support Committee and Trans Youth Support Network who devote countless hours to bringing national attention to the everyday tragedies that trans people face—we thank you. To Keith Boykin and the many contributors who all comprise the book, For Colored Book Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Still Not Enough—we thank you. To Brittany McMillan for getting us all, even The White House, to participate in Sprit Day and don purple in what has started a national and global movement against anti-gay bullying—we thank you. And, to the brave Ugandans who held their first Gay Pride, against all odds, but were determined to rip the masking tape from their face—we thank you. Also, we remember the fallen like David Kato and Harvey Milk and the countless activists, mothers, fathers and allies who have stood, and stand proudly strong to fight hate, risking their lives at the frontlines to end discrimination and hate violence. It would be impossible to list everyone—but for those of you we know and to the many we do not—we thank you.
Currently, we are at a pivotal moment in the history of the LGBT movement with an increased level of visibility and equality that has not existed previously—but still, jarring violence and pejorative media depictions still threaten the lives of so many. Herculine Barbin, Oscar Wilde, Audre Lorde, James Baldwin and Bayard Rustin lived in a different climate, yet the violence still persists, so the commitment must endure tirelessly making it imperative to join in on World Humanitarian Day and keep inspiring the LGBT community, especially our youth who are particularly at risk in their schools, in their communities and in the media.
Though successes and milestones mark our struggle, we must continue to use the media to spread awareness about these stories and take action against the injustices brought against the LGBT community. There are many who choose to intensify anti-gay rhetoric and discrimination, in turn creating dire situations for LGBT individuals to endure, but we must all continue to elevate the discourse around these issues in the media because the work will not conclude until full equality is achieved and violence and discrimination have ended.
Thank you all for the work and encouragement you all do in the community. Though we are just as varied and differed within the LGBT community with different experiences, we all stand in solidarity for inclusion and equal human rights.