Last year was full of hardship for so many. The LGBTQ+ community, women and other minorities saw their rights stripped away through vicious, unrelenting political attacks.
This created intense stress and fear. We saw a rise in hate and discrimination once again and many of us became more concerned that we are living in a time where our rights may be taken away, along with our very lives.
So, how do we get through this? How can we use this hardship as an opportunity to grow? I have a few ideas.
First, we need to understand that the community needs symbolic figures who rise to the challenge, embodying strength and resilience to champion advocacy and education within the community. In the face of opposition, our community can become a beacon of knowledge, challenging stereotypes and fostering a chance for opponents to understand us. These opportunities allow us to educate others and build bridges, knocking down long-standing barriers to LGBTQ+ individuals.
Taking the time to educate ourselves and others can lead to significant social change, as can seeking the truth and understanding ourselves. We must speak the truth and stand up with those who need us — now is not the time to be silent. We all have a voice or means by which we can help, be it through protest, writing an article, giving someone a hug or creating a safe space. There are so many ways!
Second, through forging bonds in the shadows of adversity. Community building becomes a powerful avenue for growth and support and we have learned how to come together, stand together and fight.
There’s an opportunity to forge strong bonds of solidarity to provide a sense of belonging to those who may feel marginalized and under attack. This can become a platform for shared experiences, resilience and empowerment, transforming opposition into an opportunity for collective strength. It is empowering to make the best of the bad things happening. Connecting the LGBTQ+ community and other minorities with our allies is needed to bring change.
Connecting through the mess that has been going on is an avenue to forge these bonds. This last year, I had the opportunity to make new friends and colleagues, network where I never would have been able to, and have a platform I may not have ever had.
I have been able to work closely with the media and news outlets to share the truth about what has gone on in Florida, where I may not have ever had the chance. Doors have opened for me to speak in not only LGBTQ+ affirming congregations but also others who may never have opened their doors to the conversations or messages we have.
I have seen communities — religious leaders, activists, political leaders, gay, straight, Black, white and more — stand together to fight against the hate. In the shadow of adversity, unity has occurred like I never thought it would. Forging these bonds must stay a priority.
We also have to recognize and address the unique challenges that members of our community face. Intersectionality is real and we must use it for the better.
Embracing it allows us to navigate opportunities within the opposition. We need to acknowledge and address the unique challenges faced by individuals who belong to multiple marginalized groups within the LGBTQ+ community to foster inclusivity and solidarity.
While Florida’s anti-LGBTQ+ bills have impacted so many, I have watched my trans siblings in particular fight and fear for their health and lives. It hurts me deeply when I think about how dangerous this state has been for them.
While fighting for the rights of LGBTQ+ youth and drag performers last year, I realized history was repeating itself: our trans siblings felt they were alone, and they needed us to stand up with them. While we all had our own battles to fight, we could have done so much more to help them.
By acknowledging and advocating for the diverse experiences within the LGBTQ+ community, we can all foster a more equitable and supportive community. I do not know the answer, nor do I claim to; however, I feel there is much more we can learn from this while addressing unique challenges.
Finally, we have to celebrate diversity and embrace the richness of LGBTQ+ experiences in the face of opposition. We bring unique perspectives and experiences to the table and opportunities will arise when the community creates an environment that values and uplifts every voice and experience.
By highlighting the beauty of LGBTQ+ experiences, we can challenge stereotypes, educate others and develop a culture of acceptance that transforms the opposition into opportunities for celebration and understanding. Finding opportunities among opposition takes on a profound experience within the LGBTQ+ context —where resilience, advocacy and inclusivity become indestructible tools for transformation.
Anyone can become a symbolic figure, embodying the strength needed to turn adversity into opportunities for growth, understanding and positive change. We all must navigate through the opposition to pave the way for a more inclusive future.
As human beings, we need the constant reminder that we are loved, accepted and wanted, no matter who we are and no matter what anyone says about us. Let’s make sure our entire community knows that.
Momma Ashley Rose has performed family-friendly drag for over 20 years. She is a philanthropist, mentor and more who founded the Rose Dynasty Foundation. Learn more at RoseDynastyFoundationInc.org.